Observatory Equipment

Brook Mar Observatory

Images of the Cosmos by Brad Bates




Orion XT-12 Mounted on Paramount with TSA 102S piggybacked on top. Jan 2008

A newly mounted Orion XT-12, takes the place of the XT-10. The Orion XT-12's 12 inch mirror and diagonal was sent to Ostahowski Optics for optical testing prior to installation. Using double pass auto-collimation, the primary passed testing although "very slightly undercorrected". The diagonal tested to 1/8 wave using a Zygo interferometer. Three large and one small 12 VDC Fans were installed on the back, all switchable, to cool the mirror. Laminar flow is maintained inside the telescope at the smallest flow area, even with all fans operating. The Orion focuser was replaced with a Finger Lakes DF-2 digital focuser. To mate the camera to the focuser, special adapters were custom machined by Precise Parts . The Takahashi TSA 102S is installed piggyback on the XT-12. A SBIG ST2000 XM is installed with the CFW-10 and a new Optec Pyxis Camera Field Rotator . A Takahashi TOA reducer is also installed ahead of the rotator. Also shown are the cooling lines which carry refrigerator cooled water to the camera's CCD chip.

TSA102S Configured for widefield imaging. XT-12 configured for Planetary imaging. Jan 2008

Mounted on the XT-12 is a new Imaging SourceUSB Video Camera. The camera model is the DBK 21AU04.AS containing a 1/4 inch CCD chip and shoots up to 60 frames per second. Using a Televue 4X Powermate , this camera is used for imaging the planets. Wire management has become quite a challenge with power cables, serial ports, a 7 multi-port USB hub filled to capacity. The number of lines going through the mount are minimized by use of the available Paramount Aux, Power and Lines using specially wired connectors.

XT-12 Imaging Configuration

Backfocus is very limited on a Newtonian Telescope. Orion's stock focuser was removed and replaced with a curved machined adapter bolted directly to the telescope. Another adapter is located between the FLI DF-2 Focuser and the machined plate. A Televue Paracorr is mounted inside the DF-2 slip ring attachment and a T-Thread extension is used to place the Paracorr exactly 55mm from the ST-2000 CCD Camera imaging chip.

XT-12 Imaging Configuration

The ST-2000 was recently cleaned and upgraded at SBIG. It now contains the newer KAI 2020 chip, a remote guide port and back plate handles. Also seen is a 2 inch Scopetronix slip ring which allows easy rotation of the CCD camera without "significantly" disturbing focus distance and collimation.

XT-12 Cooling Fans

Three large and one small switchable cooling fans, installed on a removable foam board structure keep the 12 inch mirror near ambient temperature.

Wire Mess

Someday I have to do something with this wiring mess. But it works!

Precise Parts adapter-FLI Focuser DF2 to T Thread

Various Adapters from Precise Parts.

Precise Parts Adapter- DF2 to Paracorr Adapter

Precise Parts Adapter - 72mm Takahashi to rotater Adapter

Light Boxes for Flats

I use homemade light boxes for flats. One for the XT-12 and the other for the Takahashi TSA 102S. Both light boxes use LED's for light and two plexiglass screens for even illumination.

Dimming Controls for Light Boxes

Both light boxes are dimmable to evenly illuminate the CCD sensor to the proper level.

TSA 102 Imaging Configuration

The TSA 102S Imaging configuration. For this photo, the Imaging Source webcam is installed. The Pyxis camera rotator is also shown.
TSA 102 Imaging Configuration

Brook Mar Observatory New TSA 102 Telescope, Winter 2006

Brook Mar Observatory's New Telescope
Click Here to see First Light Photograph
TSA Mounted on XT-10, Winter 2006

My Fourth Telescope, TSA 102S, Winter 2006. Best Optical Instrument by Far!

Newly Mounted Takahashi TSA 102S currently setup for visual astronomy. This High quality refractor has a 816mm focal length and a 102 mm aperature. It is an F8. For imaging it will be used with a TOA Flattener reducing the FOV to 800 mm and an F 7.84. The FOV can be further increased with a TOA Reducer changing the focal length to 610 mm at an F 5.98. The Focuser is in the process of being automated with a Robofocus motorized control unit operated by the computer (One focuser thumbwheel is missing).
CCD Camera: SBIG ST 2000XM with KAI 2001 Sensor and TC 237 Autoguider sensor. Filter Wheel: SBIG CFW 10 equipped with Astrodon: Red, Green, Blue, Clear, Sulfer II, Oxygen III and Hydrogen Alpha Filters. 2005
Imaging is performed with an Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) ST - 2000XM ccd camera. It contains the KAI 2001 imaging chip and a TC-237 autoguider. The camera has a chip size of 1600 X 1200 pixels. Combined with the XT-10 optics is has a resolution of 1.27 arc-seconds per pixel. Below the camera is the Color Filter Wheel CFW-10. It contains Clear, Luminance, Red, Green, Blue, Hydrogen alpha, Sulfer II and Oxygen III filters made by Astrodon.
Orion XT-10  Reflector, Modified JMI-DX-1 Focuser, Robofocus automated focusing. Mount: Paramount ME mounted on a  LeSueur Pier. Summer 2005
The Telescope is an Orion 10 inch Reflector (Newtonian). The aperature is 254 mm (10 inches) and it has a focal length of 1200 mm making it an F 4.7 instrument. It is fitted with a low profile JMI - DX2 Focuser, The Focuser is automated with a Robofocus motorized control unit operated by the computer. I have two Star Finders; an Orion 9x50 correct image finder and a Rigel Quickfinder for visual observance, but with the Paramount ME these are unnecessary. The Telescope is mounted on a New Paramount ME (July 2006) Robotic Telescope Mount. This mount accurately tracks objects across the sky and has very little periodic error. Since it is permanently mounted, polar alignment was achieved through a several hundred point mapping model across the viewable sky. TPoint is used to develop and execute the pointing model. Also new is the Le Sueur Astropier which supports the telescope and provides electrical (115VAC and 12VDC) and data, video, USB, Cat 5, serial port electrical outlets. Two shelves are also visible for eyepieces and other mount adjustment equipment.
2003 Setup
My Imaging Setup in 2003 and 2004. Camera is an ST-2000XM and the filter wheel is a CFW 8 and includes Luminance, Red, Green and Blue filters made by Custom Scientific.



My Third Telescope, Dec 2003
My Imaging Setup in 2003 and 2004. The Mount is a Losmandy G-11 with a Gemini Control System. Setup was a laborious process to polar align and adjust tracking. Imaging typically started on the third day of adjustment / tracking.

My Second Telescope, 2001

Meade 114EQ-DH4 Telescope. This autostar guided telescope performed remarkably well for it's $230 price. Equipped with a solar filter this picture is shown looking at the solar eclipse in June 2002.


© All Images Copyright 2003 - 2015 Brad Bates