My Grab and Go for Solar Imaging
Getting some Sun for Summer
If you read my other post, you may have noticed that I am building a lightweight grab and go to support both night time and daytime activities. Below is what I have put together for the Grab n Go project.
My Three Goals / Objectives:
- Its got to be light, easy to transport and setup
- It has to provide no frustration with my visual observing or imaging
- It should not cost a small fortune
This project I am working on is a light weight imaging and viewing platform at an affordable price. Here is what I put together, You ask why a lightweight and smaller OTA? My years of the larger 5 and 6 inch scopes served me well being heavy they need a larger mount I love them but over time you will loose some enthusiasm hauling several hundred pounds of gear around to set up, especially in the summer heat. Yes, I still like my larger Newtonian and Refactors and mounts, but I wanted a simple, light and quite setup, known in the Astronomy groups as a grab and go. Below is what I put together;
- Choice for my primary Astronomy imaging OTA is the wonderful Stellarvue SVR102T Triplet APO in beautiful carbon fiber, with field flatterer, This choice was made for four main reasons; This telescope is probably one of the best 4" refactors on the market for the money. You would be splitting hairs with other more expensive scopes in any performance differences. Stellarvue has very high standards in quality control and customer service, this means the scope you receive will perform and be certified and tested. Also, the quality of their manufacturing is top notch, with precision build and solid no slop tolerances. This is a premium telescope, and their customer service is world renowned. I love doing business with US based American companies - Stellarvue and Losmandy are my top picks, simply because they are the best.
- My new Stellarvue SV80 Access Telescope, a doublet ED APO will serve as primary for Solar and secondary duty for night time viewing. Dollar for Dollar the best value to performance ratio on the market for a double ED APO and at 560mm this provides full disk solar imaging or views, as well as very portable wide planetary and DSO viewing as well. I wanted to get a smaller telescope that will work with my Baader Solar Wedge for White Light sun spots, as well as work with my Daystar Quark for HA viewing and imaging. Daystar states 80mm and under no ERF is required, time will tell.
- The cameras are one of four: I have two DSLRs which i can use for lunar, planets, and general Astronomy but they are not made specific for that purpose. One DSLR is the Nikon D810 and the other is the Nikon D500 a crop sensor camera body. Both these should provide adequate results of lunar and planets with either the Stellarvue 80SV or SVR102T. But for SOLAR imaging, I plan on using the ZWO ASI174 or the ZWOASI178 both ZWO cameras should do very nicely on the solar task, and do well with night time astronomy - neither is cooled versions, but if the bug bites I may consider a higher end specific camera just for night imaging purposes.
The mount I choose for the OTAs was a iOptron CEM25p, Which is capable of a 27lb payload, and if you been reading I am keeping it light with a maximum projected load of around 14 pounds, depending on the configuration. But more realistically around 12 with the 102 APO and 9 using the 80SV Access ED APO in the solar configuration. See configurations below. The iOptron CEM25p mount is light weight, easy to carry and simple to setup, with a built in GPS, and guide port.
The CEM25P can eaisly handle lighter loads as shown, such as my SV80 access or SVR102T Telescopess.
- Battery/Power is once again simple and light. I use a portable 12vdc pack consisting of two 6volt dry cell lead acid batteries, this supplies the needed 12volts + has two 3A 5 volt powered USB outputs for accessories. I used this pack in the past, and have recently replaced the two dry cells with new batteries. This pack can easily run a Losmandy G11 for hours on end, so I expect it to power the CEM25P for days.
- Eyepieces are still in flux, but right now I have three Explorer Scientific to get me going. A 14mm 82 degree, 24mm 68 degree, and a 20mm. I will need to pick up a couple 100 degree with good eye relief to fully enjoy the triplet, I am doing some additional research on these now, and Stellarvue started selling eyepieces as well.
What is next: Adapters, always you need adapters.... :) never fails.
I am waiting on two Daystar adapter to arrive, and a couple Baader adapters as well. The adapters for the Daystar is to convert my camera quark to be used on my telescope and the Baader adapters is to reduce the optical length of the Stellarvue SV80 Access by 1 inch, yep I need to move the focus closer by one inch for visual use, using the CCD camera is not issue. To move the focus closer, I had two choices. 1. Acquire a low profile visual back or 2. convert the 2" stacked eyepiece holder to a 1 1/4 only, which is easy and that is what I did; photos soon as soon as the parts come in.
If the weather holds this weekend I will do my maiden imaging session and see how well the system works. . More to come.