Sunday, April 23, 2017

Meade Focal Reducer Tests

I purchased and just received a Meade f/6.3 focal reducer/field flattener for my Meade LX200GPS 8" telescope.

The purpose of this optic (which is mounted between the telescope and the camera/eyepiece) is to provide a wider field of view which is much brighter than without. The telescope is build at f/10, which is quite dim, but that is made up in the fact that it gathers a lot of light because the mirror collector is 8 inched in diameter.
However, for astrophotography purposes, f/10 makes for longer exposures compared to a f/6.3 optic setup... in other words, the time of exposure is reduce by almost 40%. For example, if (without the focal reducer) it took 10 minutes to create an acceptable image of a galaxy, then with the focal reducer that time would be shortened to just over 6 minutes.
The disadvantage is that the field of view is much wider, thus making the object (in this case some galaxy) appear nearly 40% smaller than without the focal reducer. So it is a trade-off: either a short exposure (which is desirable) or a more magnified view.

In my tests, I took an image without the focal reducer. Here is the setup:
DSLR + T ring + camera adapter + telescope
And here is the "base line image":

Then I inserted the Meade Focal Reducer:
DSLR + T ring + camera adapter + Focal Reducer + Telescope 
And the resulting image:

Then I inserted the electric focuser for the telescope:
DSLR + T ring + camera adapter + electric focuser + focal reducer + telescope
And the result:

I was surprised to find that by adding more distance AFTER the focal reducer in this manner that the field of view increased and the exposure time was also shorter... and a bonus, it appears that there was less vignetting!

Again, here are the resulting images:
No focal reducer
Focal reducer with                      Focal reducer with
minimum distance                       maximum distance

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