My philosophy regarding hardware

I am not a high income earner so I try to get as much bang for my buck as I can. Spending some thousands of dollars on equipment is almost unavoidable but I am convinced astrophotography is within the reach of anyone with a camera, some knowledge and some determination!

For some time I have had an unwritten polcy of not displaying prices for the following hardware, however, for the purposes of disclosure and to clarify my claims that astrophotography need not be a 'rich' man's hobby I have decided to include the prices I have paid for the scopes displayed on this page. Keep in mind that these prices encompass the years 2018 - 2022 (so far!).

I also like classic telescopes. They are relatively cheap, are mostly smaller aperture scopes and come in a variety of configurations. So I have a telescope set up for imaging and then a collection of scopes for fun and to use as 'grab & go' scopes for weekends away or some casual visual observing.

My imaging train - a collection of new & used equipment
Mount - $1000 / Scope, flattener, focuser - $850 / ZWO AS1224 MC - $400 / guide scope - $100 / Modded Canon 20D - $100 / All up - $2450
(cables, controllers, heaters, power supplies, etc removed for clarity)

skywatcher 100 x 900

Pre loved kit
  • EQ6 pro mount
  • Skywatcher Black Diamond ED 100 Doublet
  • Canon EOS 20D - modified
  • 0.85x field flattener / reducer
  • Moonlight CFL 2.5 inch large format focuser
  • BR 2 motor controller (for the focuser)

  • New stuff
  • Generic 60mm guidescope
  • ZWO asi224mc camera (one shot colour)
  • Canon EOS 80D
  • Dew heaters, cables, power supplies, etc
  • Filters, colour & CLS EOS clip in
  • Various eyepieces

  • Celestron Powerseeker 80EQ 80mm x 900mm 'modified' : f/11

    celestron 80 x 900 celestron 80 x 900

    This is my first, non department store telescope. The mount is wobbly and the focuser is sloppy but the rest is OK! I plan to obtain a general purpose alt az mount at some stage (if / when I can win a cheap, quality one on ebay), and have replaced the sloppy 1.25 focuser with a 2 inch GSO. You may have noticed that the branding is upside down ..... this is a result of fitting the new focuser as this is simply the way the holes aligned. When properly re-purposed I will probably gift this to a friend or family member.

    Yosco 60mm x 800mm : f/13

    yosco 60 x 800 yosco 60 x 800

    I bought this scope complete including it's original dovetailed timber box. It just needed a bit of a clean up. It has a slight chip out of the edge of the objective lens which does not affect the view. The Towa optics provide nice contrast & detail on Jupiters bands and moons. It came with four eyepieces: H6mm, H9mm, H12.5mm, AH20mm & the dreaded sun filter!

    Yosco 76.2mm x 910mm : f/12

    yosco 76 x 910 yosco 76 x 910

    This is another offering from 'York Optical and Scientific Company', and is possibly re-badged Kenko? It is branded Circle K. I can't find any info about this scope that I bought from a guy whose father had bought it for him.

    It is an air spaced doublet on a solid equatorial mount with a wooden tripod. The whole thing has a very solid feel about it. It came with various accessories including what seems to be an image erecting adapter, a 'Carton' camera adapter, 90 degree prism & a sun projection screen. It came with three eyepieces: H6mm, H20mm, AH40mm, moon & sun filters and a Circle K branded 2x Barlow.

    Mizar 60mm x 600mm : f/10

    mizar 60 x 600 mizar 60 x 600

    Another scope that I can't find any info about. This one looks as new although the previous owner knocked it over with the vacumn cleaner and broke the bracket that connects the scope to the mount. Some epoxy glue has fixed that. This one is pretty enough for my partner to claim as her personal scope! It came with only two eyepieces: NR6mm, NR20mm & a 1.5x image erecting lens.

    Kmart Focal Zoom Telescope

    kmart-focal-zoom40 kmart-focal-zoom40

    This one is special as the word 'TELESOCPE' is spelled incorrectly!! Also, it is in complete, as new condition with it's original packaging.

    A review of this scope I found on an American auction site (Astromart.com) follows:

    "This is a Focal 15 to 45 power 40mm doublet achromat zooming telescope with fully coated optics. Marketed by Kmart way back in the day, this is an earlier offering by Tanzutsu, who some of you remember as being Tasco's optics supplier before they sourced from China in the late 1980s.

    This scope is impressive on a few levels. It is heavily built of solid aluminum and brass. You are not going to find ANY plastic on this. Optics are very sharp with some light purple on the brightest objects, but in all truth, false color is very well suppressed. The twist focus mechanism is very precise and the twist-to-zoom keeps the main object of focus IN FOCUS as you change powers. Like the older Deluxe Zoom oculars that Tani made for Celestron, this is not a click stop.

    Optics are actually noteworthy on the Moon, Jupiter, M45, M42 (gotta have a steady tripod at this point), you can see Titan next to Saturn if in very dark skies, and, of course, LOTS of fun for terrestrial objects. This is a slow doublet system with what should be a Kellner eyepiece design. So views will have an a backseat feel at around 40-degrees fov. Nonetheless, I am impressed by its performance."

    Carton 30 x 40mm : f/12

    carton30x40 carton30x40

    And yet another scope with no info! This is a table top model and is totally uncomplicated! Plonk it on the table, point it at your target and adjust the drawtube for focus. This has a nice smooth action on the drawtube, easy to focus and clear view during the day. I have not tried it during the night yet.

    Amasco 60mm x 700mm : f/12

    amasco60x700 amasco60x700

    This scope dates from the early 1990's. The box it came in included a product sheet from the retailer and other documents from this era. The scope was a gift to a young amateur astronomer by her father, so I am it's second owner. It is in almost 'as new' condition, missing only the objective lens from the finderscope. It features slow motion controls, a 2x Barlow, a moon filter and 2 ep's. It is branded 'Circle T'. TOWA

    Scopemate 806s Maksutov Cassegrain 80mm x 800mm : f/10

    scope-scopemate-806s-80x800 scope-scopemate-806s-80x800

    This is a quality solid built scope, even the lens cover is finely machined and coated aluminium. Not sure of it's vintage but the colour suggests 1980's. This scope comes with a portable carry box, 90 degree prism, K 12.5 & KE 25 mmm ep's, & a camera adapter. The included documentation suggests a dual purpose use, i.e. visual astronomy & as a telephoto lens.

    Skywatcher ST80 80mm x 400mm : f/5


    Couldn't help myself when I saw this scope for half price. It came with only the OTA & rings. I won't bore you with any detail as this is a well known scope and there are plenty of reviews on the web.

    Skywatcher 254mm x 1200mm : f/4.7

    scope-skywatcher-254x1200 scope-skywatcher-254x1200

    Another well known scope. After 'playing' with various refractors, I was/am keen to experience a different kind of scope. An unwieldy beast this & must be heaved up onto the mount. I have not used it yet as it needs to be collimated and I have many demands on my time ... renovations, landscaping, work, etc never forgetting of course that I do not intend to die anytime soon & should have plenty of time to do as I please for a couple more decades! I bought this as an OTA & rings and felt it needed a solid connection to the mount and so bought a losmandy dovetail which cost nearly as much as the scope! .... ouch!

    Jason Comet 76mm x 750mm : f/9.9

    scope-jason-76x750 scope-jason-76x750

    An attractive and well built toy! Made for the mass market 'comet fever' for the 1986 return of Halley's comet. It does have it's original box and documents. Unlike the alt/az version this one has an equatorial mount and a finder that has a mirror that flips in and out of the optical path. The design is a 'Bird Jones', (it has a doubling lens at the base of the focuser), which by all accounts means that it has horrible optics. Not really useful in a practical sense but it is attractive and provides some historical interest. This had plenty of rusted screws and parts so at least I have saved it from the tip which is my intention with all these small aperture telescopes I have.

    Novelty scope unbranded

    Novelty scope unbranded

    Nickel or chrome plated brass desktop novelty scope. I can't find any markings on it. It feels solid ... until you turn the focuser which is quite loose, and a fair amount of work has gone into making this. I think the optics are glass (they are small and I didn't want to risk breaking or losing them by tapping), and are held in a black plastic cell. I think I got my $15 worth.