Wastelands Observatory Equipment

Currently, the WO comprises of two telescopes. A classic "Orange" Celestron C8 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain (SCT) telescope and a computerized 90mm Meade "ETX" Maksutov-Cassegrain (F=1250mm, f/13.8) and

As you will see below, the ideals of the Wasteland Observatory (by circumstance, not choice!) are to maximize performance with a minimal of capital output.

Celestron C8

The Celestron C8 is the powerhouse of the Wastelands Observatory. This is a classic "orange" C8, which is an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. This telescope is currently the central piece of observing gear at WO, its large aperture and stable, accurate new EQ-6 mount is unveiling a wealth of new deep sky targets.

Type: 		Schmitd-Cassegrain
Focal length:	2000mm
Diameter:	8"
F ratio:	10

The C8 is mounted on a new Synta EQ-6 german equatorial mount. This is a heavy-duty mount that should enable improved deep sky imaging.

The imaging is handled with a Toshiba Satellite 4090XDVD notebook computer running Windows98 and various imaging tools such as FitsX and AstroStack.

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Meade ETX-90EC

Though recently sold, the ETX is was the primary telescope of WO for over 3 years. It has managed to acquire some extremely impressive images for its limited aperture and rather abysmal f/13.8. It has been connected to a wide variety of cameras for imaging. The ETX is equiped with the Meade Autostar computer controller and is mounted on a JMI equatorial wedgepod.

Planetary Observing
ETX with Vesta Pro camera in Meade 2x barlow
Solar Imaging
ETX with Panasonic CCTV camera in Meade 2x barlow. Solar filter also in place.
DSO Video Integration
ETX with Panasonic CCTV camera piggybacked, with 83-200mm zoom lense.
Type: 		Maksutov-Cassegrain
Focal length:	1250mm
Diameter:	90mm
F ratio:	13.8
Other equipment used with the ETX:

Orion 80mm ShortTube refractor

Though highly compact, this telescope is my fasteste telescope at a wonderful f/5. What it lacks in aperture, it easily makes up in brightness and portability. Though in the past I've been using it with a phototripod, it has lately become my main DSO imaging telescope.


While visual observing is a great activity, every astronomy yearns to share their views with others. Typically film and CCD cameras are used to image objects in the sky. Film is cumbersome, and CCD's are notoriously expensive. Or so they used to be. A number of inexpensive CCD cameras are on the market just screaming to be attached to a telescope. Two of the most popular are the Quickcam and Philips Vesta Pro lines of "webcam" cameras. Behind their odd case is a quite robust CCD chip.

Connectix Quickcams

The classic grayscale quickcam shares its CCD with the entry-level astronomical CCD known as the SBIG ST-5 (Pixcel 255). They both use the TI TC255 CCD chip. The ST-5 is a cooled camera, however.

Advances in software drivers have made it possible to do unlimited timed exposures with the quickcam CCD! This software is QCV2 by Dave Allmon.

The Color and Color2 Quickcams are also venerable imaging cameras with a respectably size color CCD, though at this time do not support timed exposures.

Philips Vesta Pro

The Philips Vesta Pro/ToUCam is another popular webcam being coupled with telescopes. This is a speedy, high-quality CCD camera that connects via USB to a PC. Its driver is highly flexible and is optimal for planetary imaging.

CCTV Cameras

Another great advancement in inexpensive imaging is the Video Integration method of imaging. Many low-lux security CCTV cameras are equipped with 1/3" 1/2" CCD chips. However, in their stock camera form it is impossible to take timed exposures. So nstead of taking a single 60 second timed exposure as with a typical CCD or film, you combine the result of 1500 images taken by the camera (60 seconds at 24 frames per second). Software, such as COAA's AstroVideo software this process can be make simple. All that is required is a low-lux camera and a stable, accurate tracking mount.

The cameras that are in use at WO are: