Baader Hyperion Zoom Mark III
- 8x to 24x zoom
- 2.25x Barlow
- 68° View
- Low distortion, kidney bean effect or astigmatism
Instead of packing several different eyepieces, I just bring this baby along whenever I want to do some observing. It has a click-stop system to accurately zoom from 8x to 24x and the view is clear and sharp. I would advise to buy the set with the barlow included, which effectively doubles the magnification rate of every built-in eyepiece. Great product!
IDAS-LPS D1 nebula filter - 2" filter
Arguably one of the best light pollution filters on the market today. I live in a city center near the Belgian port town of Zeebrugge. This means that if I expose my images too long, I only get an orange haze from all the streetlights. This filter helps to reduce it as much as possible. It is said to work a lot better with a modified camera, however I have found out that when adjusting the white balance, it works wonders. I will try to shoot a "before and after-picture" soon to demonstrate.
Make sure you are ready for anything when taking your setup to a dark site. Be prepared for things that can possibly go wrong. I myself always have a red headlight (white light will blind you), a compass, several screwdrivers and a pair of pliers with me, just in case.
Dew heaters + controller
Dew is our biggest enemy. It builds up on the lens or corrector plate of your telescope and can ruin your exposures or your calibrated guiding setup. A dew shield is one possible option to counter this, but I find this is not 100% proof. Instead I use 2 dew heater strips (one for the main scope, one for the guidescope), and a 12V controller. I keep them tightened over the OTA for the entire duration of the imaging session.
Celestron StarSense Module
Do not longer waste time aligning your setup and let modern technology come to the rescue. This module works by taking several pictures of the night sky and comparing them to built-in star maps in order to accurately predict the position of the mount anywhere on earth. I use it to do a 'rough' auto-alignment first, followed by a polar alignment and another 'fine' auto-alignment to top it off. This works wonders. (see Tutorial: Celestron StarSense)
SkyQlink wifi adapter
My Advanced VX mount has 2 auxiliary ports, one of which is used to connect my wifi adapter. This little device allows me to control the mount via the Celestron Skyportal app and presents me with the opportunity to update software drivers wirelessly.
Make sure your focus is absolutely 100% accurate by using a bahtinov mask. When your scope is aligned, attach the mask to the OTA and slew to a bright star. Focus your telescope and watch the diffraction pattern emerge. (you can either view it on the LCD of your camera or, if that is too small, take a picture and then zoom in on a laptop or tablet.) Adjust your focus ever so slightly until the diffraction pattern is perfectly symmetrical. (the middle one in the picture)
Side by side Vixen mounting system
To be able to mount my imaging scope next to my guidescope, I use this sturdy mounting system.