Oops, I think I may have broken the weather!

Hello, not much has been happening with photo taking for a while, as I posted a while back I’ve been using a 127mm Maksutov Cassegrain as my primary telescope, it’s an excellent piece of kit for visual observing, but its long focal length, 1500mm, isn’t that great for astrophotography. This means that I need a telescope that has a shorter focal length and a larger aperture, I decided that Newtonian is the way to go.

About two weeks ago I went up to the site I use in Cape-le-Ferne with the intention of just doing some visual observing. However the sky conditions were near perfect and I was getting exquisite views of M42 the Orion nebula, M31 the Andromeda galaxy and a few others, add to that the fact that the mount was tracking perfectly, I decided to set the camera up to do some imaging. I took around 160 photos and, unfortunately, not one was usable as the whole lot were out of focus. I realised that what I needed is a piece of kit called a Bahtinov mask, google it! The next day one was ordered and it arrived three days later. The timing couldn’t have been better as I’d been invited to attend an imaging evening under some of Kents darkest skies.

I gathered up my kit, made up a flask of tea and was picked up by a chum and we headed off. It was a bit of a pain having set up in the dark but luckily we were allowed to use ordinary torches to set up, phew! Once we were all sorted and had filled up on chilli we were all set. I used my newly acquired Bahtinov mask to focus the scope with the camera attached and started imaging.

The images we good, I was getting 20, 8 second exposures, but because the 127 isn’t the best ‘scope to image with I can’t stack them. Some of the images are featured on this post.

So now we come to last week, Wednesday the 7th to be precise, I took possession of a shiny new Skywatcher Explorer Newtonian. It has a 150mm aperture with a 750mm focal length. That’s an additional 23mm width with a 50% reduction on focal length. According to the blurb the ‘scope gives outstanding results visually and it has been designed with the astrophotographer in mind, thank you Skywatcher; at some point in the near future I will add a guide ‘scope which will enable much longer exposures as the guidescope sort of locks on to a bright star and continuously makes minor adjustments to the mount to stay centred on the object that’s being imaged.

The down side to getting a new telescope is that the rule of getting a new scope has kicked in and the night sky isn’t going to be clear for the next three weeks. Right now I’ll be happy with on clear sky over the Christmas break.

That’s it for now, I hope you like the images, nestled among them is the new scope, and have a happy whatever festive thing it you celebrate at this time of year.

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