This will be the final installment for the Talavera site. I upgraded my main scope from an Astrotech 10RC to a 12″ carbon truss. It just barely fits in the 8 foot square structure! Mounted on the 12 is a William Optics GT102 refractor. The camera is an SBIG STXL 6303E.
I went back and forth on the main scope. I never have been comfortable with the SCT design for deep space imaging due to the fact that you have to move the main mirror to focus and if you decide to focus using the optical train then you have to lock the mirror, so you are basically converting it to a fixed mirror design anyway! The RC optics are proven and the Astrotech line is solid in my opinion. I was very happy with the performance of the 10 so I felt an upgrade to a 12 was reasonable. I think if you go much bigger than 12 in this location probably it’s a long run for a short gain with the increasing light glow in the area, not to mention it wouldn’t fit anyway! The long range plan will be eventually to use this site for planets, spectroscopy and video and do the deep space imaging up at Stars End once it’s completed. Of course we will have a much different set up up there!
I upgraded the camera to the new SBIG 6303 sensor. I don’t see how you can do better than a self-guiding camera. The new line of cameras has the guider in front of the filter wheel so you don’t have to worry about guiding through the filters! The 6303 is twice the size of the sensor in my old ST8XE but still not considered a full frame camera. While the RC optics are great, there is field curvature esp without field flatteners. This would be accentuated with the full frame sensor. Plus the 6303 has a much higher QE than the 11002.
Mounted on the RC is a William Optics GT102 triplet apo. Excellent value for a 4″ triplet. This is used mainly for video astronomy but periodically I will play around with dslr wide field imaging!