Beginner tips for mobile observatory [long]

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Beginner tips for mobile observatory [long]

Post by h.jones »

Hello all,

I've been an avid stargazer all my life but only recently have time, inclination ( ha pun!) and means to actually get some hardware. Prior to this I've needed to be content with virtual heaven gazing such as celestia or Elite Dangerous...

So, that said:

I would like to build a set up that will fit in a car boot. I live close to a dark sky region, and want to be able to venture out, set a tripod ( preferably half in and half out of car boot ) , and sit in the relative comfort of the car while observing through the open boot ( car has nice flatbed when rear seats are folded ).

I also have a Laptop with RS-232 connection, (running Ubuntu primarily but windoze 7 if needed) which I'd prefer to use for controlling the scope, and potentially for capturing the images too if possible.

Given this needs to fit in the back of a car, I'm thinking along the lines of Reflector rather than Refractor, so that it's not too long and fiddly get out of the boot. Something like a Sky-Watcher Skyhawk-1145PS (AZ-GTe) ?

Overall budget I have for this project is around UK£1000.

However, the key items I would like your expert opinion on are all the other bits :)
- What motorized mount should I purchase that can interface to my Ubuntu / Win7 laptop and handle a large-ish reflector?
- What software would you recommend for controlling pan/scan/tracking objects?
- what lens compatible with a skywatcher would allow me to turn my laptop into the main viewing 'eye piece' and camera / capture tool?
- What would you recommend as software for control of mount and imaging ?
- Would adding a raspberrypi to the mount enable easier motorized control over wifi than connecting via old school RS232 & laptop ?
- Or alternatively would you suggest an android or i-OS controller instead of trying to use the trusty old laptop ?
- I intend to use an external battery power source rather than AA batteries so motorised mounts, wifi enabled doo-hickies, and general power while on the go is not a problem so long as the hardware comes with 12v power adapters

Any advice on this gratefully received. I'll update with pics of setup if you can give me some pointers on this.

Many thanks in advance

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