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  1. #1
    briangk_77's Avatar
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    Default Clouds got you down? Great time to collimate using an artificial star.



    About a year ago I did some research and made an artificial star for collimating my telescopes. I see commercially available artificial stars now for about $20, so making one would probably mean:
    1. You have the materials already
    2. You just like to make things yourself.

    Anyway, I had some extra 1 1/2" PVC, an extra 9mm eyepiece, and even flat black paint for flocking. What I ended up buying was an LED penlight for a few dollars.

    So after a year I haven't used this thing until today - my daughter was in bed, my wife is out of town for work, and no other projects were staring me in the face. It was cloudy out (again), so I thought tonight is the night to collimate.

    So I set the artificial star about a hundred feet away from my house in my backyard and pointed it toward my back door. When it was time to collimate, I simply set up the telescope by the door and opened the door when I was ready.

    I worked great for my 114mm reflector - the "star" was pinpoint even with a 9mm eyepiece. For my 8" SCT, I did rough collimation using a 25mm eyepiece until it started to snow, rendering my artificial star to look more like a blob than a pinpoint.

    What I got out of the evening? Sharp collimation of my 114mm reflector (which needed it after I bathed the mirror) and validation that my SCT is still collimated quite well.

    Anyway, here is my set up - the tripod is use is a photo tripod and my "mount" is bungee cord

    The last two pics are what the light looks like coming out of the artificial star. If you are interested making one, I referenced Building a Artificial Star and it was helpful for me. I obviously did not follow the plans exactly (I think my penlight idea is much simpler), but I did learn the concept there.

    Now that I feel good about collimation, it's time for the clouds to go away so I can do some observing!

    Clear Skies
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Celestron Powerstar 8 SCT, Celestron Nexstar 114SLT, Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binos

  2. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to briangk_77 For This Useful Post:

    admin (01-28-2010),AustinPSD (01-29-2010),Canon Pete (01-28-2010),ebidar (01-28-2010),jairsinho (01-28-2010),MarkM (01-28-2010),mikec (01-28-2010),sxinias (01-28-2010),WWPierre (01-28-2010)

  3. #2
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    Default

    Nice job. Like you said, the pen light is a simple way to go. Thanks for sharing.
    SXINIAS

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    Default

    Now that is a neat , cool and effective idea, thanks for sharing.
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  5. #4
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    Default

    Thanks for posting this.
    Declan.
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    Default

    great idea! is that snow on your scope?
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    Default

    Very informative DIY post, Brian.

    Love the simplicity of your invention.
    Location: 30° 19' N; 97° 54' W; elev 248 meters; yellow/green zone; NELM 5.7
    Instruments: Obsession 15" Dob; Orion XT8i; 2" refractor (Galileoscope); Televue EP arsenal; Bushnell 7X50 binos
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  8. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by admin View Post
    great idea! is that snow on your scope?
    Nah, just snow on the artificial star tube. It's just PVC and a junk 9mm eyepiece so no worries. My scopes never made it outside that night - I stayed in with the door open looking outside.
    Celestron Powerstar 8 SCT, Celestron Nexstar 114SLT, Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binos

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    Default

    Nice job Brian. Thanks for sharing.
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