Equip­ment

The Observatory is completed

Roll-off Roof Remote Observatory

My obser­vat­ory is a roll-off roof with a 3.6m x 2.6m lay­out. The roof moves dir­ec­tion North still allow­ing a view to Polar­is when com­pletely open. It’s con­struc­tion is a met­al frame with wooden walls. The found­a­tion of the pier is sep­ar­ated from the obser­vat­ory to min­im­ise vibra­tions. A mov­able front flap, which is opened in synch with the roof, allows a bet­ter view to the South. To keep the wood healthy, it is required to repaint the wooden parts at least once a year.
FSQ-106EDIII on top of the RCOS 14.5" f8 Telescope

My Setup

The obser­vat­ory houses two tele­scopes on a com­mon mount on a cus­tom built pier. Both tele­scopes are equiped with CCD cam­era, fil­ter­wheel, focuser and off-axis guider. They are actu­ally used altern­at­ively dependig on the type of object imaged.

A cus­tom built PC with serv­er com­pon­ents con­trols mount, cam­er­as and aux­il­ary equip­ment. A second PC is hand­ling dif­fer­ent weath­er sensors and is send­ing the data to our com­mon web­site. CCD­Com­mand­er togeth­er with home made scripts (Perl, Python) allow fully auto­mated oper­a­tion of the setup.

ASA DDM85 Mount for Astrophotography

ASA Dir­ect Drive Mount DDM85

My tele­scopes are car­ried by a ASA DDM85 Dir­ect Drive mount with encoders on both axis. It load capa­city is about 65kg. When I added the FSQ 106 EDXIII, I changed to the longer coun­ter­weight shaft to min­im­zed weight and res­ul­ted in much bet­ter sta­bil­ity. It works very pre­cise and reli­able over the past years.

RCOS Carbon Truss 14.5 inch Telescope for Astrophotography

RCOS 14.5″ f/​8 Car­bon Truss

The RCOS 14.5″ f/​8 is my main instru­ment with  about 2.8m focal length. Focus­ing is per­formed by mov­ing the sec­ond­ary mir­ror. Once col­lim­ated, there was no need for recol­lim­a­tion since years. Thanks to the fact that the tele­scope has no rel­ev­ant termal focus drift, it is not required to refo­cus dur­ing an ima­ging ses­sion. Focuser, rotat­or and fans are con­trolled by TIM, the Tele­scope Inter­face Module.

RCOS 70mm Prcision Instrument Rotator for Astrophotography

RCOS 70mm Pre­ci­sion Instru­ment Rotator

To find usable guide­stars near an object, the cam­era and off-axis guider with guider­cam can be rotated by a 70mm PIR. In addi­tion, a 70mm field-flatten­er is moun­ted inside the rotat­or. The RC with the flatten­er at the cor­rect pos­i­tion deliv­ers a nearly flat field even for very big sensors.

Astrodon Off-Axis Guider Monster Moag for Astrophotography

Astro­don MOAG Off-Axis Guider

An Astro­don Mon­ster Off-Axis Guider (MOAG) with an open­ing of 65mm is ideal for large ima­ging sensors, which res­ults in min­im­al vign­et­ting. It’s rigid­ity is required for safely car­ring the load of the cam­era and filterwheel.
Apogee Alta U16M CCD Camera for Astrophotography

Apo­gee Alta U16M CCD Camera

An Apo­gee Alta U16M with a KAF-16803 CCD sensor is used to col­lect photons. It can be cooled about 45° C below ambi­ent. In most cases, I am using pre­flash­ing to elim­in­ate ghost images. An Apo­gee FW50-7S fil­ter­wheel is moun­ted dir­ectly to the cam­era body and holds sev­en 50mm square filters.

Starloght Xpress Lodestar X2 Autoguider Astrophotography Equipment

Star­light Xpress Lode­star X2 Autoguider

A Loade­star guider­cam­era is in use for both tele­scopes. Because the cam­era has no shut­ter, I am using darks at fixed expos­ure times for cal­ib­rat­ing the guider images to min­im­ize hot­pixels. To work prop­erly, the Lode­star need to be con­nec­ted to a powered USB hub.

Astrodon Premium Filters for Astronomical Imaging

Astro­don Gen2 Premi­um Filters

Since the begin­ning, I am using Astro­don fil­ters. To cov­er the KAF-16803 sensors, 50mm square fil­ters are required. For nat­ur­al col­or images, a set of LRGB Gen2 E‑Series fil­ters are used, while Ha 5nm, OIII 3nm and SII 5nm are used to cre­ate Hubble Palette images or to enhance nat­ur­al col­or images.

Takahashi FSQ 106EDXIII Telescope for Astrophotography

Taka­hashi FSQ-106EDXIII Telescope

To allow wide­field ima­ging, an FSQ-106EDXIII refract­or is used on top of the RCOS. The four lenses Pet­zv­al design res­ults in pin­point stars allover the field even for very large sensors. As the focus is drift­ing with tem­per­at­ur changes, reg­u­lar refo­cus­sing is required dur­ing ima­ging nights.

Andor Aspen CG16M CCD Camera Astrophotography Equipment

Andor Aspen CG16M CCD Camera

To cre­ate a really big field of view, an Andor Aspen CG16M CCD cam­era with KAF-16803 (36mm square) sensor is attached to the FSQ. With a pixels­ize of 9um, the angu­lar res­ol­u­tion of the setup is about 3.5 arc sec/​pixel. The cool­ing capa­city of the cam­era is about 55° C below ambient.

FLI Atlas Focuser for Astrophotography

FLI’s Atlas focuser

An FLI Atlas focuser is used for remote-focus­ing. The stand­ard FSQ focuser is used for mov­ing the CCD sensor at an optim­al pos­i­tion, so that the Atlas is able to reach the cor­rect focus. Thanks to it rigid design, it is able to carry the CCD cam­era, fil­ter­wheel and off-axis guider without flexure.