Telescope Accessories


This is my accessories page for when I had the SCT (Meade 8" LX200). I am keeping it online since others may find it useful.

 

It's amazing how telescope accessories can accumulate. I fit all my stuff into 4 containers. Then I have the observing chair, scope, and tripod. Setting up in the backyard usually involves 3 trips.

I use a briefcase (treated with water-repellent) for my observing books and charts. I set the briefcase on a Coleman camping stand and use it as an observing table. The books and charts are kept inside, and I open and close the briefcase as needed to keep dew out. A booklight with a red bulb/filter is attached to the inside of the lid and provides most of the light I need to read by.

Eyepieces are stored in a small eyepiece case from Orion. It easily holds my 4 eyepieces, a focal reducer, and several filters. I use an old ammunition case to hold my keypad, dew zapper, electrical chords, and power supply. All the camera stuff, including the ST4 autoguider, are stored in a canvas shoulder bag I got at a garage sale.

Focal Reducer

I have a Celestron focal reducer/corrector that converts my LX200 scope from f/10 to f/6.3. Visually the reducer works great, giving a field of about 1 degree with my largest eyepiece (26 mm plossel). The large field is especially useful when viewing nebulae and galaxies. The reducer does produce some vignetting photographically. More noticeable is some flaring of stars to the periphery of the prints. Therefore, the f/6.3 reducer does not give any greater useful photographic area; rather, it compresses the image into a smaller field resulting in brighter images and shorter exposure times. If the image is printed at 5x7, the vignetting and flaring is not very noticeable when the print is trimmed down to 4x6 or 3.5x5. The useful photographic field with the focal reducer is about 1 degree.

Dealing with Dew

Here in the midwest, dew is a major problem at all times of the year. A dewshield is little help by itself and is used mostly as a stray light shield. To keep the corrector plate free of dew, I use a dew zapper from Orion. It is a heating strap that wraps around the corrector plate and keeps the corrector slightly warmer than the air. It works great and has no deleterious effect on the image. I got the 12V model so that it could also be used in the field. For the finder, I simply replace the lens caps when I'm not actively using it. One half of a Meade eyepiece case was painted back and is placed over the eyepiece as a cover. When not needed for a while, eyepieces are put back in the eyepiece case.

Power

The scope and accessories are powered by a 3 amp, 12 volt regulated power supply from Radio Shack. The power supply has a cigarette lighter receptacle into which I plug a splitter with 3 power ports. These accommodate the LX200, the dew zapper heating strap, and an ST4 autoguider.

When AC is not available, I use my automobile battery and/or a 12 amp-hour portapac battery. The portapac battery can run the scope and dewzapper for about 12 hours, the ST-4 for 12 hours, or all 3 for only 6 hours. My car battery cannot provide enough juice to power all 3, so I must use both my car battery and the portapac if I want to take many astrophotos in the field. BTW, I have never drained my car battery.

Filters

Broadband nebula filters, such as the Orion Skyglow and Lumicon Deepsky filters, can increase the contrast of some nebulae, making more detail visible. However, the effect can be subtle, and they are not a cure for light pollution. I am currently trying out the Lumicon DeepSky broadband filter for astrophotography, and the results will be available here. Longer exposures can be used with the DeepSky filter, and nebulae appear brighter with more detail. However, background stars are attenuated, and the photos do not seem to have as rich an appearance to me. What do you think?

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