- About Richard
I own four primary telescopes which you can see depicted in these images. The first image is of my Obsession 18” “ultra compact” dobsonian reflector which is a portable configuration that easily can be collapsed to a small size that fits in the back of my car. I can take it to remote, dark locations for extraordinary viewing unhindered by light pollution. Observing the heavens on a dark, moonless night from a remote location using a large aperture telescope is a truly breathtaking experience.
The remaining images show my other three telescopes, all lined up in a stack. The large telescope on the bottom is a 15” Ritchey-Chretien “truss” telescope made by RC Optical Systems in Flagstaff, Arizona. The primary mirror is “ion beam figured,” a special process that achieves optical smoothness down to the molecular level. The telescope is mounted to a Paramount ME
mount by Software Bisque. It is a premium mount that easily supports my payload (nearly 100 pounds of telescopes and camera), and can be operated robotically.
On top of it is a Takahashi FSQ106ED 4” apochromatic refractor for autoguiding the large telescope or for wide-field imaging. The small telescope on top of the stack is a Takahashi Sky90 3.5” apochromatic refractor. Both refractors are apochromatic, meaning that they do not display the “chromatic aberration” typical of refractor telescopes. Chromatic aberration (“false color”)
refers to the fact that different wavelengths (colors) of visible light have different indices of refraction when passing through a medium like glass, meaning that they do not come to focus at the same point. This results in unnatural blue halos around most stars. Overcoming this problem led Isaac Newton to invent the “reflector” telescope. Another way to avoid chromatic aberration is to make lenses out of the mineral fluorite rather than glass. While fluorite is expensive, and difficult to grind, it is essentially parfocal, meaning that all wavelengths of visible light pass through it and achieve focus at the same point. The result is exquisite, brilliant, pinpoint images of stars without any chromatic discoloration or halos.
The black pier beneath the Paramount ME mount is an ATS portable pier. All of this equipment rests atop JMI 5? Wheeley Bars. I roll the equipment out of my garage onto the driveway for each imaging session. This requires me to polar align the scope each night, which takes several minutes using a program called TPoint (the same program used by the largest observatories in
the world). The skies from my home have a limiting visual magnitude of 4.5 to 5 on the best nights, which is marginal. But most of my imaging is done after midnight, when conditions improve due to atmospheric stabilization and ambient light reduction. I use an SBIG STL11000 CCD camera for imaging, and I control my telescope, camera, and mount using Maxim DL and SkyX Pro