Astrophotography in Central Mass 

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Flame Nebula and Horsehead

Published on 2015-11-09, by

After the Triangulum Galaxy headed into the trees, I slewed the ‘scope over to the Flame Nebula which was just coming out from behind a tall tree to the South.  This is the same small window of opportunity that afforded the recent attempts at Orion Nebula.  As much as I love trees, I’m looking forward to opening the view significantly allowing many hours of exposures on targets that fly low. When I processed the images I was excited to see, for the first time on my own equipment, the Horsehead Nebula adjacent the Flame Nebula.  I don’t have many exposures to work with but here’s a good start.  Feedback welcome through the contact page.

Flame Nebula & Horsehead

Flame Nebula & Horsehead


The Missing Cap (Orion Telescope Downer)

Published on 2015-11-06, by

Earlier this year, I purchased an Orion 4.5″ StarBlast telescope from the Goodwill Auction website.  The telescope arrived in all of the original packaging and I couldn’t see any signs of wear.  I believe the telescope was donated new or perhaps used only once or twice.  After some deliberation I decided to donate the telescope to a local library as part of the Aldrich Astronomical Society‘s Library Telescope Program.  I initiated a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase the additional supplies that go into transforming the telescope for public use (PDF). Thanks to the generosity of many people, I was able to raise the $200 very quickly and John Root will put in the order for the remaining components.

The one caveat in all of this is that either Goodwill left out the OTA cap on accident or the person who donated the telescope to Goodwill omitted it.  In order for the telescope to travel to and from library patrons’ homes safely, a dust cap is needed and preferably an OEM cap.  I contacted Orion and was rather shocked to find out that they could not offer me a replacement.  If you have any suggestions or know of a place I can purchase a replacement please use the contact page.

I post this not to fault Orion’s agent, Giovanni, nor the company as a whole.  They make great products and that’s why we’re able to successfully deploy them to so many libraries.  I am posting this as a plea to Orion to offer replacement parts to owners of their telescopes–regardless of whether they are the original owner.

Here’s a full transcript of my chat with the Orion agent (2015-11-06):

Chat 2015.11.06

Thank you for contacting Orion Telescopes & Binoculars, how may I help you today?
Charlie Ste…
I lost the aperture cover for my Orion StarBlast 4.5 astro reflector telescope (the tabletop unit) can I get another one?
Did you purchase this telescope from us?
Charlie Ste…
No I purchased it used from Goodwill
Charlie Ste…
Happy to pay for the part
Are you referring to the collimation cap?
Charlie Ste…
No the cap that covers the OTA
Charlie Ste…
The big one
The one that goes on the end of the telescope when doing solar viewing?
Charlie Ste…
No the opaque black one that protects the primary from dust etc during storage and transport
One moment please
Charlie Ste…
Thanks, Giovanni
Like this correct?
Charlie Ste…
One sec
Charlie Ste…
Sort of… this is for the Orion 4.5″ telescope
Charlie Ste…
I think part of it fits within the OTA and overlaps slightly
Yes, that is not the correct size
We might not have one at the moment for the 4.5
Charlie Ste…
This is the reflecting telescope… the 4.5″ newtonian
Charlie Ste…
Let me go head and double check and see if we have the proper size for your telescope
Charlie Ste…
Thank you.
We unfortunately do not have one, go head and check
They might have one that fits the telescope
Charlie Ste…
Yeah, I’ll check there. We want to cover this telescope for use at a local library
Charlie Ste…
Charlie Ste…
Haven’t had any luck finding the part
Hopefully they might have it
Charlie Ste…
I don’t understand that Orion doesn’t have the cap for a telescope they manufacture and are still actively selling
Charlie Ste…
Doesn’t that seem like needing a hub cap for a vehicle and the manufacturer saying go to the junk yard
All telescopes come with the appropriate parts when customers order them
Charlie Ste…
There must be a giant quantity of them where they’re manufactured?
Charlie Ste…
Sorry if I’m giving you a hard time
Since we are limited with replacements, we replace parts for those who purchase the telescopes directly from us or an authorized dealer
One moment please, let me go head and see if we can get you that part
Charlie Ste…
Our club orders sometimes 10 of these telescopes at a time so I’ve asked the guy who orders them to go through his channels
Charlie Ste…
We’ve put over 50 of these telescopes into libraries statewide
Unfortunately we can’t get that part, but some customers have used a shower cap to prevent dust and etc
Charlie Ste…
Ok. Thanks for your time.

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Glimpsing the Orion Nebula

Published on 2015-10-25, by

Since acquiring a telescope in January, I’ve been fascinated with online images of the Orion Nebula and wanted to see it for myself.  A few months ago, I viewed it for the first time through my 10″ telescope with an OIII filter in place while it was low above the horizon one morning.  It’s truly a wondrous object with inherent captivating beauty.

The trees in my yard have been a major obstacle blocking clear views of objects rising in the southeast and setting in the southwest. The night before last, Orion passed through a gap between two trees at just the right height for me to take some photos. In the end, 13 of them were suitable to be combined into a single image. I think it came out really well, all things considered.  The moon was bright and the sky wasn’t very transparent.  I pushed the Canon EOS 6D camera’s ISO about midway at 6400 and used the long exposure and high ISO noise reduction features.

What do you think?  Use the contact form to send feedback.

M42 - Orion Nebula

M42 – Orion Nebula


Orion StarBlast 4.5 f/4 IOB w/extras for Sale

Published on 2015-08-18, by
© 2015 Charles Kelley Stevenson