Rabbit Hole Observatory
Rabbit Hole Observatory

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I made my first efforts at astrophotography in 2009. I started with a Canon 20D on a tripod. Slowly I have moved on to more advanced options. These pages show my equipment.

Rabbit Hole Observatory
Sky Alert by Interactive Astronomy

From the Interactive Astronomy hosting site you can see the weather conditions at my observatory. Click on the image of the SkyAlert station and it will take you to a graph of the current weather conditions at my observatory. Hit the refresh button on your browser to get the latest updates.


I have my computer system timed to automatically turn on around 8 PM EST and turn off around 7:30AM EST.


Click on the image of the AllSkyCam and it will take you to the hosting site to see the sky conditions at my observatory. The AllSkyCam is from MoonGlow Technologies.


I have my computer system timed to automatically turn on around 9PM EST and power off at 7:30 am EST.  You can see past data but not info during the day. 


4 - 6 " Alnitak Flip Flat

The Alnitak Flip-Flat from Optec is very convenient for producing flats. I generally adjust the light intensity and test the duration of exposure to determine how long  the exposure needs to be for each filter to produce an image that fills the wells on the CCD chip to about 2/3rd's of there capacity. I use maximDL or the fits file reader in the SkyX to determine the average count obtained from my test image


One can then do a run of flats ( I do about 21 images for each filter) in about 15 minutes (for LRGB & Ha filters).





The table below shows my settings and well counts for my Televue NP127 is with an Apogee U8300 camera. It uses the KAF8300 chip which has a well count capacity of 30,000

Binning Light Intensity on Flip-Flat Duration of Exposure Filter Average count
1 X 1 50 0.4 sec Luminance 22,500
2 X 2 50 1.8 sec Red 20,500
2 X 2 50 0.35 sec Green 21,500
2 X 2 50 0.35 sec Blue 21,500
2 X 2 50 25.00 sec Ha 21,500



Observatory Monitoring


I use Foscam cameras to monitor my telescope bay and control room. These cameras can pan and tilt (controlled from your PC, remote PC or cell phone). You can observe a scope on a mount in the telescope bay to see it is not about to impact the pier.


You can monitor from your cell phone or anywhere on the internet.


If you would like to see the pan and tilt function of the foscam camer click on this LINK.


To see a video done by the foscam of the telescope bay click on this LINK.





With the Digital Loggers Web Power Switch you can power off/on remotely (from anywhere you have internet access) or program automatic power off/on commands to your Mount, PC, Cameras, or any component you wish to control the power to.


These devices have now been installed along with the magnetic switches for my roof. I am now able to run my observatory remotely. In late 2017 I became acquainted with Hamza Touhami. He introduced me to (and tutored me on the use of) PRISM. Since then I can run my observatory remotely. That includes my observatory in Jonesborough, TN and Benson Arizona. This is the most powerful and most affordable software I have ever encountered. TRY IT. You will soon be leaving behind all others. It is a COMPLETE astronomy package.


A gentleman by the name of Preston Starr with the University of North Texas recommended these to me. He uses them in controlling the systems at the university. He gave presentations at the 2014 and 2015 NEAIC program in Suffern, New York on remote observatories.

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© Raymond Merrick