The telescopes I use and when I use them
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