Celestron C14 with fastar
I chose this OTA because I wanted a telescope with light gathering power but also with the facility for using the fastar attachment for faster focal ratio wide field imaging should I wish to use it. It is a 14" SCT hence it is big and here is it's main disadvantage. Getting it in and out of the dovetail on the Paramount ME is a nightmare as it is awkward to handle, it can be managed by one person but ideally two would be better, I am in the process of sorting out some Parallax tube rings which will be much easier. From an observing point of view it mainly excels with lower power eyepieces, in particular the Televue Nagler 32mm as it has a fairly narrow field of view anyway, for planetary observing and smaller objects I use the Ethos 13mm which gives exceptional views. From an imaging point of view as my interest is mainly deep sky and not planetary it is limited to the smaller objects and when seeing conditions allow. The focusing knob is very stiff which makes it difficult to focus for imaging, which is where a replacement 2 speed focuser or electronic focuser comes in. I haven't done much in the way of imaging with this scope yet and there is an inherent problem with SCTs of mirror flop and as Meade have patented their design there is no such facility to lock the mirror in place on the C14 so I bought a pair of flop stoppers to compensate for this, these replace the original mirror lock screws used in transit and allow the mirror to be locked in place once focus is achieved. The biggest problem on a cold night is stopping the corrector plate from misting up and icing over and although the dew shield I use slows this down it won't prevent it so a dew heater is a must. I am waiting for a new 14" heater strip as I had a faulty one.
William Optics ZS 66
This is the smallest scope I use and at the moment it is responsible for most of the images on my site so far. It is perfect for wide field shots, small, light weight and portable. The two downsides are that there is not sufficient back focus for imaging necessitating the use of extension tubes and the focuser is not robust enough to image at the zenith (even with the lock on), it just slides all the way out. So using a large format camera on this scope is totally out of the question. For the money it is very under rated and allows for very good images to be taken, it is used with a William Optics Mark II 0.8 focal reducer/flattener. I use this piggy back on the C14
William Optics Megrez 90
Another under rated scope from the WO stable, this has a more robust 2" focuser so I plan on using this when I first try my Starlight Xpress H36 camera for imaging, I have a Mark III 0.8 focal reducer/flattener to go with this scope
TMB 115 f7 APO
I ordered this superb scope prior to Astrofest 2008 and was able to pick it up at the close. I wanted a superb quality APO that would be a suitable match for my Starlight Xpress SXVF H36 large format camera and after some research decided on the TMB 115 as it had the right balance between aperture, focal ratio, portability and ability to carry heavy loads with the 3.5 inch focuser. Most of my imaging will now be done with this scope. First light images can be seen in the star clusters and nebulae section and although I am still a relative beginner it is already showing huge potential.
I have now finally taken delivery of my latest acquisition, a Takahashi BRC-250. This is a Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a Baker field flattener/focal reducer built in (although this can be removed). It is a 10" aperture with f5 focal ratio which makes it ideal for imaging with the fast focal ratio
I have since sold the Takahashi BRC250 and bought a Takahashi FSQ106ED f5 refractor for wide field imaging as I was finding that more and more of the subjects that I was interested in were very large and required a large FOV in order to capture them. I have been using this telescope for about 3 years using the Starlight Xpress H16 and occasionally the H9 for galaxies and globular clusters, last year in 2013 I purchased a FLI Proline 16803 as my widefield camera.
Earlier on in 2013 while I was helping out on the Widescreen Centre stand at Astrofest in London I was asked by a good friend of mine David Nagler who was also helping out on the stand if I would be interested in "Beta testing" a new prototype astrograph collaboration between Televue and FLI. This consisted of a Televue NP127 with the manual mechanical focuser removed and replaced with a custom made extension tube and field flattener which then connects directly to the FLI Atlas focuser, Centreline filter wheel and Proline 16803 camera using ZTA (Zero Tilt Adapters), I already owned the Proline 16803 and Atlas focuser so David thought that I'd be a suitable candidate to test it. Happily I said yes and late July the telescope, filter wheel and necessary adapters came and I changed the system over from my FSQ106ED to the Televue/FLI astrograph. This involved taking the filters out of of my old filter wheel and putting them in the new one and putting a separate guide scope on the system, the total changeover and re-balancing took about 3 hours which was pretty quick and I have been imaging with this since. As a system it is incredibly easy to set up and use and is about as close as you can get to "Plug and Play". No adjustments have been necessary and the system has performed flawlessly, it handles temperature changes without any problems and I haven't had to change focus except when changing the filter.
The system is based around the Televue NP127 which is 127mm aperture and f5.3 so is an excellent wide field imaging platform
I have been using this system now for over a year and the quality of the images have been excellent with less time spent having to make adjustments and more time spent imaging which is the ideal. The good news is that after discussion with David Nagler from Televue it looks like the prototype now has a permanent place on my Paramount ME.