> Equipment

In 2013, I relocated my imaging set up to Olly Penrice's Gite in Hautes Provence. After three years of imaging in Spain, I was returning home to Ireland for a job, and after chatting to Olly, we decided to join forces.

I set up my Tak FSQ106N, and Atik 11 Meg along with Olly's Tak and CCD camera onto a single Mesu 200 mount.

This dual rig means we can capture twice the amount of data each night, allowing us to go very deep with long exposures on each object. A separate PC captures each CCD camera's FIT files. All set up, focusing, aligning and capturing is done manually.

Here's a photo of us with our latest setup in France:

My current imaging set up uses a Takahashi FSQ106N, ATK1100 CCD camera and Takahashi EM200 mount. On top of the FSQ there is a 60mm Takahashi refractor with an ATK16 CCD camera for guiding. I use Baader Hydrogen Alpha, and LRGB filters, which are housed in a True-Technology filter wheel. I use the manual control pad to change filters during an imaging session.

In Spain, while I don’t have an observatory, I can leave the imaging rig outside overnight as I live in such an isolated area. This is a great advantage as it saves in a lot of set up time each night.

When I was imaging from home, in Dublin Ireland, I generally used Narrowband filters due to the light pollution, using Ha and O3 to synthesise a colour picture. If the weather was predicted to be clear, with little wind, I'd pack the gear in the car and head to Wicklow to a dark site. This allowed me to do some LRGB imaging.

All images from the camera are captured using the ATK Artemis s/w, while I guide the scopes with AstroArt5. I use AstroArt5 to stack, align and convert the FIT files to TIFFs. Depending on the type of picture I may also use Registar to align images for mosaics. I initially use PixInsight for gradient removal, colour balance and histrogram stretch. I then use Photoshop CS to further process the TIFF files, before working with my professional printer (i.e. Tony Murray, of http://www.murrayimagingstudios who based in Naas, Co. Kildare), for the final print.