Welcome to my site. My name is Paul Hughes and I live in St Austell, Cornwall, in the UK. As you can probably imagine, I have a passion for astronomy. It has been my main hobby and interest for the past 20 years. It all started when I lived in Co. Clare, Ireland in 1991. The fantastic dark skies, a good friend, and an Orion 250mm reflector really opened my eyes to the wonders of deep space.
In 1998 after gaining my Pharmacy degree in Brighton I moved to Cornwall. In 1999 I purchased a Meade ETX-90 EC with Autostar Controller. This telescope rekindled my interest in the night sky and it wasn't long before I wanted to try to image what I was seeing. After several enthusiastic attempts at piggy-back film astrophotography, I purchased a 200mm Meade LX-90. This was a much better piggy-back platform and a fantastic visual scope.
In 2004 I reluctantly sold both scopes to fund a second hand Takahashi FS-102 Refractor and Vixen GP mount with Skysensor 2000. This purchase gave me the opportunity to realise just how good Takahashi optics were. I've never looked back, and the scope has become my primary imaging unit.
In 2005 I purchased a Takahashi FS-60C which has since proved to be a brilliant travel scope and guidescope. I also went digital with the purchase of a Canon 10D DSLR
In 2008 I upgraded the mount to a Takahashi EM-200 USD-3. No GOTO on this, but I've got pretty good at using the setting circles!
After fiddling around with an SBIG ST-4 autoguider, in 2009 I purchased a QHY-5. I use this with the excellent PHD software.
In 2010 we went on holiday to Mozambique. Unfortunately I couldn't take too much kit, but the views of the southern skies through the Takahashi FS-60C were stunning. I did manage to take several widefield images with my Canon 10D, and these are available in a folder on my webpage. This is also where the photo of me came from; astronomy in shorts and a t-shirt, not something that happens too often in the UK!
For short time in 2010 I used a Hutech-modified Canon 20D DSLR. This camera proved to be fantastic for shooting emission nebulae due to its extended red response. It also demonstrated better noise characteristics over the 10D.
In December 2010 I made a major upgrade to an SBIG ST-8300 CCD camera. This would prove to be a steep learning curve but I was pleased with my first attempts at hydrogen alpha imaging.
In 2011 I’ve been continuing to learn the finer details of LRGB imaging and processing, but early results have been encouraging.
I am now using a Lakeside focuser that allows me to focus accurately using the @Focus functionality of CCDSoft. It also allows a minor focus adjustment between filter changes. As good as the FS-102 is, there is a slight shift between red and blue, and I’ve found that I get better results if I refocus.
My 200mm f/4 Orion Newtonian Reflector with Research Grade 1/8 wave optics allows some decent deep sky observations between imaging nights. Most notably I have had a fantastic view of Jupiter through it. The scope revealed structure within the southern equatorial belt and I saw the Great Red Spot.
My most recent acquisition has been a Vixen Polarie star tracker. This will prove invaluable for DSLR wide field shots of the Milky Way starfields.
© Paul Hughes Astroimaging