Tonight I get to add a new item to my equipment list. The much
anticipated Equatorial Platform! Ooooh... I've been waiting 2
years for this. Here is my history with it:
I got my Dob, I had equatorial tracking on my 6" newt. I inquired at my
local astronomy shop about tracking for Dobs and the guy there said
that it is around $1500 to set one up. I told them they were crazy and
left it at that, but I really wanted it.
started to actually consider spending the money because I really wanted
tracking in a bad way. I met some guys that had equatorial platforms
for their big Dobs and I actually exerienced looking through a tracking
Dob. Now my real investigation started. The result was that Dan (at the
local astronomy shop) was correct on the pricing and there was still no
way I was going to spend that much.
I learned more about what went into making one of these platforms I
decided to look into making one myself. I searched around and found
that there is actually a Yahoo group called "eqplatforms". Amazing. I
hooked up with some guys in that group and really started to understand
how to make one.
that I do not have the skill to make such a thing, I decided to hook up
with a buddy that is an engineer who can help me make the blueprints
and a buddy who is a woodworker who can make the blueprints into a
together with buddies stuff isn't working. I don't have the skills to
do it and they simpy don't have the interest in the project. My only
option is to pony up $1500 and buy a professionally made one.
begin to speak with Tom Osypowski about building one for me. This time,
the conversation wasn't theory, it was, "I'm saving up now to get one
I came across a review for "Round Table Platforms" at Cloudy Nights (read the review here
Like the reviewer, I also found Brian very responsive and easy to
comminicate with. I made arrangements with him instead of Tom Osypowski
to make my platform and though the price has gone up since the review
in 2005, the cost was nearly $1000 less than Tom's.
And now, for the past several nights, I've been out every night observing, taking pictures and TRACKING!!
not going to review the platform, but suffice it to say that with
(very) rought alignment, it takes an object 10 minutes or more to drift
out of the view of the eyepiece at 300 power. It normally takes about
10 seconds. You can also take some short time lapse photos as the
examples I will post below.
Wide Field Shot of Cancer
is a wide field shot with the camera piggy backed on the scope. I used
the 18mm to 55mm lense at about 20mm. In Cancer you can see both M44
and Saturn as well as Mars below Pollux in Gemini. You can also see
most of the constellation of Leo.
M44 and Saturn
picture was taken with the camera piggy backed on the scope. I used the
300mm zoom lense which gives me roughly 10x. This was a 180 second
Wide Field Shot of Hercules
There are tons of stars in this 2 minute exposure. It is almost
difficult to make out Hercules, Corona Borealis and the head of Draco.
M57 - The Ring Nebula
This shot is seriously funky.
This is an eyepiece projection shot with a no name, 25mm, Chinese Plossl
eyepiece in the camera adapter. The edge distortion is magnified by the
flat nature of the CCD as well as the time exposure. I am still
learning how to even take pictures with this setup and this is the
first real deep space object shot that was worth keeping. This is a 70
So even though I got the equatorial platform
for observational tracking, it's kinda cool to be able to take some
pictures as well. Again, photography is not my objective, but I've been