July 2015 update - here is the new EQ8 mount fitted with plastic shields to stop the sun from heating it up
Here I am sat outside my mobile observatory and have the option of imaging from the inside in the very hot weather.
In the UK I had no observatory and so I had to take everything outside when the weather permitted. As such my small triple solar scope set up (bottom right) is my primary instrument as I use it the most. It is highly portable and ideal for air travel. It consists of a H-alpha PST and a CaK PST parallel mounted and set above a 80mm Williams optics refactor. This set up was featured in the 2009 November issue of Astronomy Now magazine. My secondary triple set up is a much larger assembly and takes me about 25 to 30minutes to assemble ready for use. At the moment I use the small set up about 20 times more than its larger brother!
An observing session – Purpose made wooden micro observatory, large triple set up on EQ6 pro mount and small triple set up. Whilst photographing with the large set up it is always advisable to keep an eye on the full disc by using the PST’s and white light scope to make sure you are not missing out on a major event on a different part of the Sun.
Triple solar scope now with 80mm Williams Optics refractor as the base telescope.
Close up of telescopes on a 70mm Skywatcher mount.
This set up on the initial 70mm Skywatcher refractor fitted into a B&Q Aluminium carrying case.
SECONDARY TRIPLE SOLAR TELESCOPE SET UP
This is a much larger set up and consists of a home-made aluminium cradle fitted to an EQ6-Pro mount. It carries a Takahashi TOA130 refractor together with two 90mm Coronado Solarmax telescopes in Hydrogen Alpha and CaK. A DMK21 monochrome CCD camera can be seen fitted to the TOA. Note the extra leg clamps see later for a close up. They are made from a short piece of plastic domestic waste pipe split at one side and three jubilee clips hold each in place.
Initially there was a requirement for me to make an aluminum cradle and then I designed and made a front three piece sun shield for the unit. The rings and shield rings were finally rubber lined to protect the telescopes.
The sun shield is made of three pieces the bottom two bolt to the cradle after the telescopes are fitted and then the top piece just slides in on top of the telescopes.
I also had difficulties in obtaining suitable mounting rings for the TOA130 and so after having the tube for three months with no rings, I decided to make my own! The sun shield is a 3-piece assembly that slots together after the tubes are fitted to the mount. There was also a need to upgrade the EQ6 counterweight shaft and add two extra plates. I also added some plastic compression sleeves to each of the tripod legs and each was fitted with three jubilee clips to prevent any chance of tripod collapse.
Front view of cradle with just the two bottom pieces of the sun shield fitted the rubber linings can now be seen. First assembly and the mount and testing of the large triple solar telescope set up. The full three-piece aluminium front sun shield plate is fitted and balanced here. I later added Velcro to the underside of the cradle.
A heavy duty counter weight tube and two extra weights were required to balance the system. The counter weights had to have larger holes bored out to 25.5mm.
This was my first assembly to balance the system.
Optional observing session’s options include just the two 90mm Solarmax telescopes, all three telescopes or the TOA130 on its own. My little mate Alfie likes to get in on the action.
I have added some strips of white velcro to the underside of the cradle here to fit counter weights to it.
TOA130 on its own shows inside of micro observatory. It is essential to be able to get a good view of your laptop screen.
Close up showing one of the extra leg clamps
This is a bespoke double unobstructed front etalon unit and this later allowed for triple-stacking the 90mm Solarmax Ha telescope.
Double stacking 900009 this using a bespoke unobstructed double stack etalon unit tuned to this telescope. These were manufactured in very limited numbers and tuned to the individual telescopes. Double stacking 900198 using second central obstructed front etalon unit and second T-max tuner and adaptor ring. Note the foam rubber on the outside of the TOA130 rings used to protect the Solarmax telescopes during assembly.
Triple-stacking a 90mm Solarmax telescope.
Solarmax 900009 with bespoke unobstructed front etalon unit together with additional T- max tuner adaptor ring and front obstructed etalon unit. See my testing report to be added in a future articles section.
LUNT SOLAR SYSTEMS – HERSCHEL WEDGE.
This is a recent acquisition [February 2011 Astrofest]. Visually this unit is stunning and it will be tested shortly.
250mm ORION REFLECTOR ON EQ5 MOUNT. This was the first reasonable telescope that I bought and it still forms part of my inventory. I made a front Baader filter shield. The 5.0 spec Baader sheet is suitable for visual observations and I used it to good effect to watch the transit of Venus in June 2004. The 3.8 spec film is not for visual but best option for high speed video capture together with either Baader continuum filter or UV/IR block filter. Other alternative is a 7A Hydrogen alpha filter unit. This helps tighten the focus when using a refractor for white light observations. Make sure your primary mirror is securely held in your reflector before adjusting your collimation, if not – clunk every time you rotate the telescope.
My 250mm Orion reflector in use, in overgrown garden. Remember to either remove the finder-scope or keep the lens caps on it.
The EQ5 is also suitable for mounting a single 90mm Solarmax telescope. This shows the EQ5 with the 90mm Coronado Solarmax telescope. Homemade micro observatory box, this clamps to my Workmate for stability, it has a 12v lead acid battery for extractor fan [to keep laptop cool] and solar panel charger. The fan switch has an inbuilt red light. My system includes an observing blanket, Velcro fitted to its open front.