Jump to content


* * * - -

Time to Lighten Up

Discuss this article in our forums

Time to Lighten Up


I recently relocated to a new house that happens to be closer to town (Tucson, AZ) because of my age and health.  Among other things, this move signaled the need for a smaller scope and mount.  The telescope was a no-brainer for me based on previous experience so I bought an Explore Scientific ED102 Essential Series Air-Spaced Triplet APO Refractor.

Fig. 1

For my mount, I selected my favorite smaller-medium, the Celestron AVX.  I improved its performance: see my article on that task here.


To complete my new rig I implemented a series of ZWO items including an ASI533MC-Pro for my primary camera, an ASI120MM guide camera, a ZWO EAF focus motor, and of course, an ASIair Plus (Mini) controller.


Along with a .8x focal reducer/field flattener I had an excellent rig for anything below 10th magnitude and perfect for large and bright nebulae



In my early years of astrophotography I shot 120” exposures while ignoring the distorted semi-egg appearing stars.  With this new inexpensive rig I routinely ran up to ten minute exposures with perfect stars (see fig. 5 above).

For less than $4,000 (Brand new cost) and less than $3,000 (Pre-owned) I owned a rig that had everything to automatically image even small planetaries and faint nebulae suitable to impress even the best amateur astrophotographers with their $6,000 Tak and $2,000 EQ-6R.

After years of multiple telescope designs and exotic mounts, I was now officially an “old guy” with a combination of hardware suitable to last until I became that well known computer geek enjoying what everybody else was doing while munching my pizza in my warm recliner watching YouTubers that were still “doing” and not just “watching”.

  • Rome, CollinofAlabama, Scott Beith and 40 others like this


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics