My early efforts at photographing the night sky using conventional film were frustrated by the ever increasing light pollution around Milton Keynes to the point that enthusiasm eventually began to wane. For a few years my telescope gathered dust and snails and the observatory became overgrown with ivy. However, with the advent of high resolution digital cameras, more affordable filters, specialized software & the wealth of information available on the internet my interest was rekindled when the efforts of others revealed that some high quality images could be achieved despite the sky glow that ruins the view in most residential areas. This blog is a diary of my attempts to walk in their footsteps. I hope that anyone who cares to read it will find some items of interest. Pete Roberts
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SITUATION & SKY CONDITIONS
Situated about 50 miles north of London, my location is in Stony Stratford, a small market town at the NW extremity of the new city of Milton Keynes. The town lies in a river valley so sky transparency is often compromised by mistiness and problems arise at high elevations from the church tower floodlights spilling stray light into the sky. During winter this is further compounded by the broadband illumination provided by the town's Christmas lights which remain on for 5 weeks. Making an assessment of the general sky conditions at my locality is helped by the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale which provides some parameters against which to make a judgement. Using this scale I would say my sky usually rates a 6/7 (without the additional winter illumination). Only on the very best evenings it might be promoted to a 5.
F4.3 10"Newtonian+WO Megrez 88 apo. The guidescope is under the main tube.
The Newtonian's tube assembly was purchased from Astro Systems of Luton in 1986. Optics are by David Hinds. The fork mount is self-built courtesy of some friends who owned a small engineering firm at the time and allowed me the use of their equipment. Drives and associated electronics were also supplied by Astro Systems.
Other equipment & software
William Optics Megrez 88 apochromat F5.6 Tair-3S 300mm F4.5 SMC Takumar 200mm F4 Zeiss 135mm F3.5 Canon 50mm F1.8 Canon 450D (modified with Baader filter) deep sky Canon 550D lunar/planetary Baader MPCC coma corrector (on main scope) TS field flattener (on Megrez 88) Astronomik CLS filter (eos clip version) guidescope: 80mm f.3.2 (made from binocular objective) guide cameras: Philips SPC 900NC, Logitech Pro 9000
Software: EOS utility (camera control) EOS Camera Movie Record PHD guiding MetaGuide Deep Sky Stacker Registax Do it Again (mouse action repeat) Faststone Image Viewer (basic editing) Photoshop CS2 (with plug ins) Photobrush Nebulosity Noise Ninja XAT Image Optimiser