One of the first fields of study was the heavens. The movements of the sun, stars, and planets were recorded just by observation with the naked eye. The invention of the telescope extended our reach deep into the cosmos. Today, amateur astronomers have access to research-quality gear at relatively low prices. Some home-astronomy setups rival those of major university observatories.
At the end of 2009, we acquired some new equipment for our astrophotography efforts. Today, we are going to take a FirstLook at something called the Hyperstar.
The Hyperstar is a lens designed by the folks at Starizona that turns an f10 SCT scope into the heart of a superfast f2 imaging system.
The Hyperstar lens (red arrow) takes the place of the secondary mirror in the optical path of the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT). The lens "catches" the first bounce of the light reflected from the primary mirror and channels it to a camera. The light is much brighter at this stage, resulting in a significantly shorter exposure time (30x faster, from minutes to seconds).
The M10 Hyperstar package from Starizona consists of: scope-specific lens, t-thread camera mount, mirror holder, and counterweight. All of it is protected by a padded Hardigg Storm case. The optics are multi-coated and the entire assembly is collimation-adjustable.
The C6 Hyperstar package is similar to the M10. The lens is smaller and as no counterweight was supplied, we assumed none will be needed. Included in the case was a disc with a knob in the middle. We could not find any instructions on the use of this disc, but reasoned that it must be related to the removal of the secondary mirror.
Note that not all makes of SCT have removable mirrors.
Check here for scopes which are compatible with the Hyperstar. Two of our telescopes are compatible with the Hyperstar lens, the 10" Meade LX200 GPS and the 6" Celestron C6. Each Hyperstar lens fits a specific scope, so outfitting multiple scopes can get a bit pricey. We got lenses for both scopes because we wanted to have a portable system and a larger home setup.
The final expense is the CCD camera. The Hyperstars designed for larger scopes will work with a DSLR, but neither of our scopes is large enough because the body of the camera is too much of an obstruction. The CCD camera we will be using is a Starlight H9C which will work with both lenses.
Every once in a while a new piece of gear is created that extends ones ability to do more, see better, or understand deeper. We believe the Hyperstar lens is such a thing. We are eager to get ours set up with the 10" Meade LX200 and the portable Celestron C6. In our next installment, we'll go into more detail on the mounting of the Hyperstar lenses. In the meantime, if you want more info, head on over to the Starizona site for the basics on CCD imaging with the Hyperstar. [Permalink] -Hyperstar FirstLook