When it comes to telescopes, small is nirvana; for me. After about a month, big telescopes become a burden, a hassle to setup, and take up too much storage space. Now big is fine if one has an observatory, abundant clear skies, and the security to safeguard the stuff. No Virginia, I cannot make that commitment. So give me small, out of the way, and easy on the go. These are the telescopes that inspire, stir curisoity, and are frequently used.
Why am I stuck in a seemingly sub-100mm telescope rut? First there was the Vixen 70S guide scope, then the Stellarvue 1010N Nighthawk, and
now the Vixen 80SS (400mm, f/5) short tube; all achromatic refractor's. Well, I have a fondness for Vixen, and have rarely been disappointed with Vixen equipment. The appeal of the
A80SSWT resulted from the following features:
This little Vixen comes ready to use sans eyepiece. The included accessories are a flip-mirror diagonal, and a red-dot projection finder. The OTA is painted white with royal blue trim; matching the color scheme of the Vixen Sphinx telescope configuration. Although I mainly have Vixen GP green, I do not find the color a problem. The OTA comes with the Vixen dovetail foot to mount on any Vixen equatorial mount. The foot is held in place with two screws side-by-side. I found it necessary to reverse the foot to aid in balancing a Nikon DSLR camera body. If the foot is removed, it reveals a third 1/4-20 tapped hole, that will allow mounting the 80SS on a standard photo tripod. The dewcap (DC) tube does not slide to and fro like on the Takahashi Sky 90 or Stellarvue Nighthawk. The 80SS dewcap tube slips over the telescope tube for storage, but when removed, it is screwed onto the lens cell to form the dewcap. This arrangement is pretty neat. The DC does not rattle when it is in the reversed stored position. The lens cap consists of two caps. The lens cap has a 42mm hole (includes its own cap) in the center; probably for stopped down solar viewing. There is a warning label on the tube about pointing the telescope at the sun. The 80SS is configured to take a variety of finders. The cast part of the OTA containing the Rack and Pinion focuser, has a slot and screw to accept the Orion finder dovetail foot. Another area has pre-drilled and tapped holes spaced 21mm apart. This is the same spacing on Celestron C8 finder mounts, and the Orion dovetail finder bases. The filp-mirror diagonal straight-through view, contains a T-thread (M42 x .75) when the 1.25" eyepiece tube is removed. One curiosity, is the front of the flip-mirror diagonal has an i.d. that is a hair larger than 48mm. This results in not being able to screw-in 2" filters (but they can easily be secured with Scotch tape). I found this wierd; especially for a telescope that is designed with photography in mind. The instruction brochure was in katakana (Japanese Script), so I had to translate looking at the drawings and photos. These new-line Sphinx telescopes are still filtering in from Japan, as mine had serial number 260 on the box, and it took four weeks to get the 80SS after ordering from Adorama. The R&P focuser tube is 50.8mm i.d., so many accessories are available for both visual and photographic use. The drawtube has an internal M60 thread, when the 50.8mm adapter is removed. The R&P focuser is very smooth, and there is a locking screw atop the focuser casting. The main tube has a 90mm o.d. and screws onto the focuser casting. This same casting shared by the rest of the 80mm Vixen SX series telescopes. The telescope is marked Made in Japan, whereas the flip-mirror diagonal is marked Made in China. The red-dot projection finder had no markings, but this has to be the Lexus of projection finders. I have used the chinese imports, Rigel, and other projection finders, but none can compare with the model included with the 80SS. The solid robust construction, large graduated illumination dial, and large adjustment dial to name a few features. The foot will fit in Orion dovetail finder bases. The 80SS and accessories are all aluminum construction. The only plastic you will see are on the R&P focus and Red-dot finder adjustment knobs.
NOTE: The 60mm to 2-inch adapter can easily be modified for a compression ring if you have a small lathe. In this case, a compression ring was made by purchasing a strip of brass from a hobby store measuring .016 x .500 x 12". The brass was cut to a size of .016 x .312 x 6" for the compression strip. The adapter was mounted on the 3-jaw lathe chuck of a Chinese-made 7 x 10" mini-lathe. Using a boring bar, the inner diameter of the adapter was under-cut to a depth of .016" by 5/16 inch to accept the brass compression strip. This is an easy task even for the novice metal lathe user.
NOTE II: As of July 2005, Vixen has been quick to respond to photographic possibilities of the A80SS refractor. Two accessories are now available 1) 66mm long, 60mm threaded extension tube (# 2956) and 2) 60mm to T-Threaded adapter (# 0562) that is rotatable. Using these devices, any SLR or DSLR camera will be mountable with the required Camera T-mount adapter; guaranteed to reach focus too. Unlike some competeing telescopes, the A80SS has a flat photographic FOV, and enough in-travel to allow the use accessories like bino-viewer's. The Vixen T-adapter means your SLR or DSLR camera will not need an adapter with a compression ring holder to support it.
|This Vixen Dot Finder has to be the Lexus of projection finders. This includes the Telrad, Rigel, and all those Chinese Imports that are thrown in with a telescope purchase. The finder is all aluminum (except for the adjustment illumination and elevation knobs) construction. This finder can be purchased seperately for $70.00. Unlike other projection finders, this one sets higher above the telescope tube, making it ergonomically easier to use.|
|The versatility of the 80SS is shown with both the Red Dot Finder and an Orion 9 x 50mm optical finder mounted. The Vixen dovetail included was replaced by a longer 8-inch dovetail plate from Scopestuff.com for easier balance in declination when attaching a camera. Also shown is a Vixen 90mm tube ring, which is threaded 1/4 in.-20 for a plethora of mounting options (e.g. piggy-back camera, SBIG e-finder and STV auto-guider, counterweight).|
|The 80SS takes focal length extension well. In this photo, a Stellarvue two inch dielectric diagonal, Televue 4x Powermate, and Nikon D70 DSLR is illustrated. This configuation is suitable for lunar and planetary imaging, providing 1600mm, f/20. This arrangement makes it easier to balance telescope in declination, as about a 3-inch extension is required for the 4x Powermate. The brass weight shown also assists with balancing accessories at the eyepiece end. The 11 Day lunar photo below shows the 80SS can handle a reasonable increase in image scale with positiveness.|
Yes, I see the thumbs down; astrophotography images with an achromat suck! Well, maybe yes and maybe no. If the image is dim enough, and appropiate filters are used, one can get by without spending a lot of cash on an APO or a Triplet refractor. Besides, the 80SS is very quick and easy on the draw, and a joy to handle due to its lightweight. The photo shows a Nikon D70 Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) hooked to the business end of the 80SS. The flip-mirror thingy was removed in favor of a Stellarvue 2 inch camera adapter (# CA3) and 2 inch deluxe extension tube (# ET3). I found this to be a smoother looking setup with less bulk, and 2-inch filters will screw directly into the CA3 (Note: Astro-Physics.com prime focus camera adapter and two-inch extension, also work well.). A teleconverter also works well with this system. Using a Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 teleconverter, the system becomes 560mm at f/7. The 80SS is shown mounted on a Vixen GP-DX mount with Skysensor 2000 GOTO. Balance of the the D70 in declination required moving the dovetail forward when the foot is reversed as described above.
These images of The Great Nebula in Orion were taken with the above Nikon D70 and 80SS setup. The settings were RAW mode, ISO 800, white balance daylight. An ML-L3 Nikon remote was used to trip shutter. All exposures are unguided, tracking with Vixen GP-DX mount. A two inch Hutech IDAS LPS light pollution filter was used. Final focusing was done using an external monitor. The 15, 20, 30, and 50 sec shots are single frames (no stacking), that are basically straight out of the camera. Minor adjustments of sharpening, histogram tweaks, digital camera noise reduction and cropping were done using Paint Shop Pro 9.01. This shows that the 80SS is a lens capable of doing serious deep sky imaging without a serious outlay of cash.
|This M42 image is a combination of seven images taken with the above astro setup. There were no flat or dark frames used. The stack consists of 1 x 15 sec, 4 x 20 sec, 1 x 30 sec, and 1 x 50 sec. Images Plus 2.01 used to align and stack (average combine) images. Additional IP processing in Digital Development and non-adaptive Van Cittert iterations (5). Final processing with Photoshop 6 and Paint Shop Pro 9.01. Acknowledge that focus and tracking is a bit off.|
|Wide field of early morning (2 am EDT) East Sky, 29 March 2005. This image of the Aquila, Sagitta, and Lyra region is a single 65 second exposure. Note the Ring Nebula (M57) in the top right. There were no flat or dark frames used. The even illumination and flat field to the edge demonstrates a quality optic here. Nikon D70, Vixen 80SS, Hutech IDAS LPS filter, ISO 800, RAW. Vixen GP-DX tracking, unguided. Photoshop 6, and Paint Shop Pro 9.01 processed.|
|Cropped version of the above wide-field image, showing Ring Nebula (M57). This is a 9th magnitude object. With additional magnification, the 15.3 magnitude central star can be seen! This is uncanny performance for an 80mm achromat that supposedly has a 12th magnitude limit. The seeing was not the best with the glare of a gibbous moon illuminating the sky. M57 is a Planetary Nebula, and this image was bagged by accident. I was really doing wide-field imaging to capture the Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules. Unguided 65 second image, Vixen GP-DX tracking.|
|An image of the Stardust Spiral Galaxy, NGC 253, in the constellation Sculptor. Imaged using the Vixen A80SS, 400mm, f/5, Nikon D70 DSLR, IDAS LPS filter, RAW, ISO 800. Exposed at 7 x 4 min. Vixen GP-DX tracking, auto-guided with SBIG STV, e-finder guide scope. ImagesPlus 2.5, Neat Image, and Paint Shop Pro 9.01 processed. Taken at pre-dawn on 28 July 2005.|
|A wide field image of the galaxy rich area near Coma Bernecies and Virgo Galaxy Cluster. The brighter galaxy at the upper right is M90. Nikon D70, 80SS refractor at 400mm, f/5. Exposure 1x60 sec, 1x90 sec, 2x2 min, ISO 800. , Vixen GP-DX tracking, unguided. ImagesPlus, Neat Image, and Paint Shop Pro 9.01 processed. Imaged from SE Michigan on 5 May 2005|
|The Globular star cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules. Imaged using Vixen 80SS, Nikon D70, IDAS LPS filter, RAW, ISO 800, 400mm, f/5. Unguided, 4 x 30 sec image, Vixen GP-DX tracking. Images Plus (Lucy-Richardson non-adaptive deconvolution, 10 iterations applied), Paint Shop Pro 9.01, and Neat Image processed. Imaged on 5 May 2005 from SE Michigan.|
|A closer view of the Globular Cluster M10 in Ophiuchus, magnitude 6.6. This area is rich with Globular and open clusters. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor working at 580mm, f/7), IDAS LPR filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 1 x 43 sec, 1 x 60 sec. Processed using Images Plus (aligned and stacked, L-R deconvolution), Neat Image, and Paint Shop pro 9.01.|
|A wide field image of open star cluster M39 (on the left) in the Cygnus constellation. This cluster of stars is located NW of the North American Nebula (NGC 7000 ) in Cygnus. A plethora of nebula and double stars occupy this area of the Milky Way. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 2 x 45 sec, 3 x 60 sec. Processed using Images Plus (aligned and stacked) and Paint Shop pro 9.01.|
|An image of the M31 Galaxy in Andromeda, and its companions M32 at top, and NGC205 at the low end . The Vixen 80SS has a natural flat field and even illumination on the D70 CCD, so no flats were used. A single 3 min. dark frame was subtracted. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 2x1 min, 3x2 min, 4x3 min, 2x4 min. exposure. Auto-guided with SBIG STV Deluxe via Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 PC using SBIG e-finder. Processed using ImagesPlus (Average combine stack, min. to max stretch, Lucy-Richardson de-convolution), and Paint Shop Pro 9.01.|
|A wide field image of the open star cluster M29 in the constellation Cygnus. This cluster is located at the heart of the Cygnus Cross. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, a total of six exposures at 3 x 2 min and 3 x 4.5 min. Processed using Images Plus 2.5, Neat Image, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. SBIG STV with e-finder auto-guided. From SE Michigan on 1 Aug 2005.|
|A wide field image of the Veil Nebula in the constellation Cygnus (NGC 6992). This flame-like object is the remnant of star that exploded eons ago. Imaged using a Nikon D70 DSLR prime focus to Vixen 80SS, IDAS LPS filter. RAW, ISO 800, 2x3 min, 1x4 min, 2x5 min at 400mm, f/5. Processed using Images Plus (aligned and stacked, Non-adaptive Lucy-Richardson deconvolution (5x5 PSF), and Paint Shop Pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 tracking, and SBIG STV Deluxe auto-guided with e-finder.|
|This nebula is located in the complex of Serpens in the heart of the Milky Way. The nebula is called the Eagle Nebula due to its bird in flight like shape. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor, IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 7 x 4 min. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3, Images Plus (aligned and stacked), Neat Image, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. GP-DX tracking, STV auto-guided.|
|This red rich region is IC 5070, The Pelican Nebula in the constellation Cygnus, SE of NGC 7000 The North American Nebula. A plethora of star clusters and nebulae are in this image. Shown on the left in NGC 7000, is the Bird's Nest and NGC 6996/6997. On the right is the Pelican Nebula, IC 5070. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS achromatic refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 5 x 4.4 min., 5 x 6.4 min. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3.1, Images Plus 2.5, Neat Image Pro, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with skysensor 2000 PC tracking, SBIG STV Deluxe autoguided with e-finder guidescope. Imaged on 11 Sep 2005.|
|This open cluster is NGC 6997, located in the east region of The North American Nebula. This cluster is one of many occupying this area; most not visible with an 80mm telescope, except photographically. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor,, IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 2 x 90 sec., 2 x 2 min., 1x3 min Processed using Images Plus (aligned and stacked), Neat Image, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 tracking, under hazy humid conditions.|
|Image of M27, Dumbbell Planetary Nebula in the constellation Vulpecula on 17 Aug 2005. Photographed with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS achromatic refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 4 x 270 sec. Seeing 3/5 under gibbous moon skyglow. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3, Images Plus 2.5, Neat Image, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX tracking, auto-guided with SBIG STV, using SBIG e-finder as guidescope.|
|This open cluster is M103, located in the West region of the constellation Cassiopeia. This cluster is one of many occupying this area of the Milky Way; most not visible with an 80mm telescope, except photographically. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor,, IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 5 x 135 sec. Processed using Images Plus 2.5 and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 tracking and STV autoguided with e-finder guidescope. Imaged on 7 Aug 2005.|
|Pre-dawn (0400 EST, SE Michigan) image of The Pleiades, M45, an open star cluster in the constellation Taurus. Imaged with a stock Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS achromatic refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 6 x 4.3 min, 4 x 325 sec. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3.1, Images Plus 2.5, Neat Image Pro, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX tracking, auto-guided with SBIG STV, using SBIG e-finder as guidescope.|
|This Spiral Galaxy is M33, located in the constellation Triangulum. This galaxy is also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor,, IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 7 x 320 sec, 3 x 6.5 min. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3.1 (RGB black point set) Images Plus 2.5 ( Sigma Clipped Ave. Combine) and Paint Shop pro 9.01 (CA and noise filter, sizing). Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 PC tracking, and STV autoguided with e-finder.|
|Pre-dawn image of NGC 6885, an open star cluster in the constellation Vulpecula. This object is about five degrees NE of M27 (Dumbbell Nebula). Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS achromatic refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 4 x 1 min., 4 x 2 min., 4 x 4 min, Processed using Nikon Capture, Images Plus 2.5, Neat Image Pro, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX tracking, auto-guided with SBIG STV, using SBIG e-finder as guidescope.|
|This faint Mag 9.4 Spiral Galaxy is NGC 7331, located in the constellation Pegasus (see upper right). This photo illustrates how versatile this Vixen short tube is in pulling in the really obscure faint fuzzy's. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, 80SS refractor,, IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 7 x 190 sec. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3, Images Plus 2.5 and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 PC tracking, and STV autoguided with e-finder, under sky-glow conditions of a 12-day waxing gibbous moon, 17 August 2005.|
|Pre-dawn, late summer image of M42 Great Nebula in the constellation Orion. Imaged with a stock Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS achromatic refractor (400mm, f/5), IDAS LPS filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 8 x 30 sec., 5 x 2 min., 4 x 4 min, Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3, Images Plus 2.5, and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 tracking, auto-guided with SBIG STV, using e-finder as guidescope.|
|The Rosette Nebula emcompasses the open star cluster NGC 2244 in constellation Monoceros, just SE of the constellation Orion. This photo illustrates how versatile this Vixen short tube is in pulling in the really obscure faint fuzzy's in the low elevations of Mag 4 skyglow.. Imaged with a Nikon D70 digital SLR, Vixen A80SS refractor,, Orion Skyglow filter, prime focus, RAW, ISO 800, 7 x 5.5 min. Processed using Nikon Capture 4.3, Images Plus 2.5 and Paint Shop pro 9.01. Vixen GP-DX with Skysensor 2000 PC tracking, and STV autoguided with e-finder.|
The 80SS was used to take photos of a 24 day old crescent moon. The setup was Vixen 80SS, Nikon D70 DSLR, Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 1.4x Teleconverter, and Baader 2 inch fringe killer filter. This filter is highly recommended for achromat objectives to reduce any chromatic aberration. From my observations, the 80SS has very good color correction, but nevertheless, the filter was used in the light path. The frames were taken with the D70 set for manual operation, RAW mode, WB=daylight, with various shutter speeds and ISOs. The Nikon ML-L3 was used to trip shutter, and focusing was aided using an angle finder and an external monitor (see above). The first row shows a single image, while the second row is a stack of eight images. These images illustrate that if you have a very good image that equals or exceeds the rest of the image pack, there is no need to stack images. The images were processed using ImagesPlus 2.0 and Paint Shop Pro 9.01.
|This 24-day old moon was taken on 3 Feb 2005 from SE Michigan. The 80SS was mounted as above. A Kenko 1.4x Teleconverter was used to increase the image scale. The exposure is Nikon D70 RAW mode, 1/200 sec, ISO 200. Minimal processing of brighness, contrast, sharpening, size reduction using PSP 9.01.|
|This crescent moon is a stack of eight images. ISOs were 200 and 400, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/200 to 1/320 sec. The RAW frames were converted to 16-Bit TIIF frames, then cropped, aligned, and stacked using ImagesPlus(IP) 2.0. Further IP processing of non-adaptive iteration (Van Cittert). Final color, brightness, and sharpening done in PSP 9.01. Sometimes less is more judging from these two images.|
|This waning crescent moon was taken on 4 Feb 2005. The configuration used was the same as in the above images, except no filter was used. Vixen has a winner here, as there is no obvious false color photographically. I would classify this telescope performance as semi-APO for lack of something better. Exposure was 1/125 sec, ISO 200, RAW mode. Weather conditions: 20 deg F, semi-fog, from SE Michigan. Minimal processing of unsharp masking, greyscale conversion, and size reduction using Nikon Capture 4.2 and PSP 9.01. Nikon D70 photo.|
|This Gibbous moon was taken on 29 Mar 2005. The image was actually taken to aid in focusing for the M57 Ring Nebula photo above in the DSO gallery. The configuration used was prime focus, with no filter used. Exposure was 1/500 sec, ISO 200, RAW mode. Minimal processing of unsharp masking, and size reduction using Nikon Capture 4.2 and PSP 9.01. Nikon D70 photo.|
|This 11 day waxing gibbous moon was taken with a 1600mm, f/20 configuration. Using a Televue 4x Powermate Image Amplifier to increase the focal length of the 80SS. The setup also used a Stellarvue two-inch dielectric diagonal to reduce the overhang at the eyepiece end. No filter was used. Exposure was 1/20 sec, ISO 200, RAW mode. Minimal processing of unsharp masking, and size reduction using Nikon Capture 4.2 and PSP 9.01. Nikon D70 photo.|
|This 22 day waning crescent moon and Mars, was taken at prime focus (400mm, f/5) from SE Michigan, pre-dawn on 31 May 2005. Mars is noticably bright, approaching opposition in late Fall 2005. No filter was used. Exposure was 1/160 sec, ISO 200, RAW mode. Minimal processing of unsharp masking, cropping, and size reduction using Nikon Capture 4.2 and PSP 9.01. Accurate focusing is needed with the 80SS to attenuate finge color abberations.|
Chromatic (CA) false color was not evident when observing average illuminated terrestrial objects, even with low-end eyepieces. The acid test would be on visually looking at brighter celestial targets. For this test, the 80SS was pointed toward the giant planet Jupiter, illuminated like a light house beacon in the early February morning eastern sky. Now don't forget this is an f/5 achromatic telescope, so some false color is to be expected. A Televue 19mm Panoptic eyepiece was selected for this test. When the focuser was racked in and out of focus, there it was, blue and magenta color on the edges of jupiter, but the four Galilean moon's (G, I, E, C) were points shining like diamonds on an engagement ring. A Baader 1.25 inch Fringe Killer filter was inserted and virtually eliminated objectionable fringe color from the view. The next test involved increasing the magnification. Using the 19mm Panoptic, University Optics 2.8x Klee Barlow, and Fringe Killer filter, the bands on Jupiter were prominently displayed. In all, the optics are fine for my intended useage; wide-field imaging of Deep Sky Objects. Other purists, who are bugged by any false color, will opt to spend more money on an APO or Triplet refractor telescope.
|This image of the planet Jupiter is a stack of 16 images processed using Registax 2, then saved as 16-bit TIFFs. The Nikon 4500 digital camera was afocally coupled to the 80SS, with a Scopetronix 14mm WA eyepiece, UO 2.8x Klee Barlow, and Baader UV-IR filter. The Nikon 4500 was set at 4x zoom (28mm FL). Exposure was 1/8 sec, ISO 200, 80X at f/28, 1200 x 1600 pixel resolution. PSP 9.01 used for gaussian blur, brightness/contrast, re-sizing, and gamma tweaking.|
The A80SS uses a 90mm Outer Diameter tube, which is common among most 80mm refractor telescopes. Mounting a camera, larger finder, or auto-guider, presents a challenge due to the limited length of short focal length telescopes. On the A80SS, this is really an issue, because the telescope is less than a foot long. A number of options for a piggyback mount system was considered. The winner of the canidates was the Lumicon Piggyback Mount. This mount was selected because of its all-aluminum construction, design simplicity, lightweight, and ability to adjust in both azimuth and altitude. The Lumicon adapter for an 8 inch SCT was used (however any size will work). The mount required modifications, which can be accomplished with hand tools. The mount base plate was drilled with a one quarter inch hole in the center to allow fastening with a 1/4 -20 inch hex-head socket screw. The upper plate was modified by milling a slot to clear the head of the hex-screw (alternately, a drill press and file, or a Dremel tool can be used). The following photos show the configuration Before and After modifications.
|Shown is the SBIG STV camera/autoguider attached to the Lumicon Piggyback mount. The STV has the SBIG e-finder mounted (100mm, f/4); attached using the Borg 7315 helical focuser. The weight of the Stellarvue R80 mounting ring and STV, provides a nice counterweight to balance the Nikon D70 DSLR shown.|