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Perfect Observing Set Up


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Having been through a few iterations in observing kit over the years, I thought I’d share what I consider to be the ultimate visual observing set up - based on my own budget and constraints of course.

First up is my converted roll of roof observatory that used to be my garden shed. We are surrounded by houses so the high sides help block off the light pollution without really limiting the sky available. I knocked it together with the help of two friends in a (long) day last summer and now understand why people enthuse over their observatories! My observing routine is so simple and therefore so pleasant: make brew, pop coat and hat on, roll off roof, remove dust covers and start observing. Simples!

On the left is my wide angle, rich field instrument: a large pair of APM 100mm binoculars with interchangeable eyepieces. I use 20mm William Optics 66-deg eyepieces to give x30 and x2 Tal barlows to give x60. Using standard eps also allows me to use filters – the whole of the Veil Nebula with UHC filters is a particular favourite. I made a right angled bracket from some steel plate to hold the binos horizontally.

On the right is a second hand Celestron C8 with a baader binoviewer. I use this for serious studies where aperture and magnification are important – individual deep sky objects, moon and planets. I did have a 4” f9 Skywatcher ED-Pro but the long focal length was a pain in the limited space and the jump to 8” aperture is very noticeable.

These are mounted on a giro III mount and carefully aligned so I can switch smoothly from one to the other. The motions are very smooth and it holds both instruments without undue effect. The tripod is a homemade oak tripod and is pretty solid, particularly with the spreader plate.

All in all a very pleasant observing set up located at the end of my garden.

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Thanks for the positive feedback! Yes you can't beat two eyed observing, I find it so more relaxing and therefore infinitely preferable to cyclops mode.

If only the nights were a bit shorter at this time of the year.

Clear skies,

Mark

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That's a very nice setup Mark - I didn't appreciate that you had a dual mount on my brief visit the other month. How do you find you get on with the alt-az without slo-mo controls ? I'm getting itchy wallet syndrome at the moment, and I'm looking at maybe a 102 Mak grab-n-go for planets on a small AZ mount (I hate GEMs).

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Hi Garry, I find it's pretty good, very dob like once you've got the balance and tensions just right. The smaller giro mounts or equivalent may suffice if you only have the smaller scope.

You're more than welcome to have a butchers on your next visit - and scrounge a brew?

Mark

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Mark - that'd be good, like most of us I'm frustrated at the moment by the fact that the damned sun won't go down, so I'm doing a lot of tinkering instead. Perhaps I'll pop down next weekend? Drop me an email...

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Nice set up :(

I'm currently doing the ground work for an observatory with warm room - I'm more into imaging. So all my spare energy is going into that and I'm too tired to worry about light nights and use the night time for sleeping :)

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