Monday, February 14, 2011

Boondocking, Phoenix, Arizona

We left Yuma and headed for Phoenix, Arizona.  Now as the fifth largest metro area in the United States Phoenix is not exactly known for its boondocking opportunities.  Though there are more of them close to Phoenix than probably any other metro area in the United States.  We landed at a friends house and are boondocking in their backyard.

The objective in Phoenix was to take some astronomical pictures with my new telescope and my friends new mount and camera.  The secondary objective was to get rid of those colds we picked up in Yuma.  Nasty, nasty bug.  It has been years since I had a cold and this one made handwashing an obsession!!  Susie caught it first and passed it on to me!!

Here is my telescope on top of Frank's new mount.

Now the addicting part of Astronomy as a hobby is that it can be as difficult or as simple as you want to make it.  You can just use your eyes, or binoculars, or a telescope, or computers and CCD camera's to take pictures of deep sky objects.

We are still working the bugs out of the mount, camera's and software.  But here is a picture taken through the mount and telescope combination of the Orion Nebula M42.  The pictures you can take through simple camera's these days rival those taken by the largest telescopes in the 1970's.  Technology is a wonderful thing.....most of the time.

So here is the equipment needed for this picture.  The telescope cost $299 from Astronomics.  It is a telescope made for astro-photography.  For a discussion of telescopes for Astronomy please read this posting from last spring.  Telescopes and More.  There are plenty of good, honest telescope dealers throughout the country.  You should buy a telescope through them rather than a department or discount store.

Now the most important part of a telescope is the mount.  This is a excellent quality, Japanese made telescope mount for this size telescope.

Notice that the mount is several times the price of the telescope.  A good quality mount is always more important than the telescope.  Now this mount is expensive because it is computerized and tracks the stars as they move through the sky.

The computer built into the mount will automatically move the telescope to any object in the sky and center it.  There are cheaper computerized mounts that also work well.  This mount is a dandy and you will probably never replace it.

If you are only going to be using your eye.  There are very well made, cheap mounts called Dobsonians with telescope will run somewhere between $300 to $600 dollars.

Next you need a digital single lens reflex camera.  If you already own one of these camera's use it!!  They will work for most beginning efforts and then you can buy a better camera for astronomy when you know exactly what you need.

Right now I would say this is the best "astronomy" camera at a reasonable price.  It is also a well made digital camera for everyday photography.

The final piece in the adapter to mate the camera to the telescope.  This is called the t-ring adapter.  Opteka T-Mount Adapter for Canon EOS Rebel T3i, T3, T2i, T1i, XS, XSi, XTi, XT, 60D, 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D, 7D, 5D, & 1D Digital SLR Cameras

That's it for a $1800 telescope mount or cheaper.  A $300 dollar telescope. A $800 camera.  You can take pictures that rival the professional observatories.  And you can make and view them in seconds. 

If you know kids that are interested in computers and science a computerized telescope mount and camera will provide plenty of challenge and interest.  They might give up those video games.

I got interested in science when my parents announced to me at eight years that they would buy "educational" toys.  Toys that were not educational were my responsibility to buy.  Anyway, several chemistry sets and microscopes, film processing equipment and other "education" toys I finally got a telescope.  The rest is history.  I still have that darkroom equipment, though.

1 comment:

Russ Krecklow said...

Wow, what neat pictures. Love the one of the moon! That's so sharp!
Thanks for sharing.