horsehead and flame nebulae


home
history
equipment
visual observing sessions
imaging sessions
image post-processing
"The Imperative of Night" narrative
contact us

Welcome to taosastronomer.com!

offering local "hands-on" observing
(visual and imaging) sessions and instruction
viewing and imaging from Rabbit Valley Observatory
a dark sky location on the mesa just west of Taos, NM

 

Astronomical Equipment and Cameras Used

At Rabbit Valley Observatory, there are many options available from the equipment perspective. First and foremost, of course, are the main instruments and dome enclosure used. Pictured below is Rabbit Valley Observatory's dome and main Celestron/Losmandy/Williams Optics Megrez instrument.

Skyshed POD
Celestron C-11, Losmandy G-11 mount and Megrez 80 guidescope
Rabbit Valley Observatory's SkyShed POD dome enclosure -- the dome can be just opened "halfway," or the entire "top" can be slid off (and to the right in this photo) to reveal the entire night sky -- a very nice option!
Rabbit Valley Observatory's main Celestron C-11 instrument with Losmandy G-11 German equatorial mount and Megrez 80 refractor guidescope/photographic 'scope

Of course, once the dome is opened, the instruments may be used either visually or photographically. Such options are discussed in detail on the corresponding visual and imaging website pages. Here we will just consider an overview of the main equipment.

 

Once the scope is open to the sky, the observer needs to"find" the desired objects. The observer can reference RVO's (Rabbit Valley Observatory's) large permanent library and can also access digital sky charts and atlases inside the observatory. The setup also includes advanced digital setting circles which, once understood, can very easily assist the observer toward this end.

Rabbit Valley Observatory's mini-library
JMI digital setting circles
RVO's on-site mini-library -- one can also reference the huge additional library inside our house!
RVO's digital setting circle controller -- made by the inventive JMI of Lakewood, CO

If one decides to observe either visually or photographically, the image must be focused, either on the digital chip of the camera or on the focal plane of your eye (the optic nerve). To accomplish this one must use rather precise focusing mechanisms. RVO incorporates both manual and electric focusers from JMI -- these are pictured below.

JMI focusers on C-11
JMI focuser on Megrez 80
JMI focusers on the main Celestron C-11 instrument -- the one on the right is for "rough" manual focus (really quite accurate), the one in the middle is an extremely precise electric focuser, operated either from a hand (for visual observation) or computer (for photographic focusing) controller. (Note Orion G3 camera at far left.)
Electric JMI focuser on the Megrez 80 guidescope. (Note Canon 450D XSi imaging camera at the rear of the optical train.)

If one decides to observe visually, quality eyepieces are perhaps the most important accessory. Below are pictured some of RVO's eyepieces. the Tele Vue Naglers are consider the Rolls-Royce of deep-sky eyepieces; the University Optics Konigs not very far behind (I actually prefer these eyepieces)! For planetary viewing, the Orthoscopic style is preferred for razor-sharp to-the-edge views of fine planetary and lunar details.

Rabbit Valley Observatory's Nagler eyepieces
Rabbit Valley Observatory's Orthoscopic eyepieces
RVO's Nagler eyepieces -- considered the Rolls-Royce of oculars
Rabbit Valley Observatory's collection of University Optics' Konigs and Orthos

RVO's imagers include several Canon 450D/XSi imaging cameras -- modern DSLRs with large chips, modified to be more sensitive to the red light of nebulae and other deep-sky objects, and the Orion Deep Space Monochrome G3 camera, presently used for guiding but a decent imaging camera as well. The cameras are controlled via laptop computer and a selection of sophisticated programs customized for astronomical use, discussed in greater detail in the imaging section of this website.

RVO also has several digital video cameras -- not yet up and running -- that will certainly eventually be used for planetary imaging and visual public outreach.

Rabbit Vally Ogservatory's Toshiba laptop
Rabbit Valley Observatory's aging but functional Toshiba laptop, running Windows XP -- a very stable astronomical platform.

So, if you decide to take advantage of this opportunity, your real decision is whether to observe visually or work to obtain a beautiful photograph(s) of a favorite object. Or, if you have the time, why not both! We hope to hear from you soon!


home
history
equipment
visual observing sessions
imaging sessions
image post-processing
"The Imperative of Night" narrative
contact us

 

(all content copyright 2015 Willis Greiner Photography, all rights reserved)