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Kingstanding Observatory
Birmingham, England
52d 32' 43.98" N
01d 52' 23.57" W

I've used a number of telescopes to observe the night sky over the years. Here's a few photo's...

The first serious telescope I owned.  A 6 inch f8 Charles Frank Newtonian which I had bought for me in 1968 for my 10th birthday.  The mirror was mounted outside of the tube, and you can see the x3 finder just below the eyepiece mount.  It was at 90 degrees to the optical axis, and used a small 45 degree mirror at the 'back' end of the scope to view the sky.  The mount was very sturdy, with excellent setting circles.  The tube was aluminium, and together with the mount was heavy to move - for a 10 year old.  I used this scope for 9 years until 1977, and made my first series of variable star observations with it in 1975.  The telescope was eventually housed in a hinged roof observatory around 1976.

In 1977 I replaced the 6 inch with this Cambridge Telescopes 10 inch f6.5.  This was a lovely telescope to use, and served me well for 10 years.  By this time my interests in variables were leaning more towards the fainter Cataclysmic stars, so something larger was needed.  More than 30 years later, this telescope is still in use by a good friend of mine, although it has been converted to a Dobsonian.

The telescope on the left is a 16 inch f5 reflector, made by Dark Star Telescopes (sadly no longer making big Dobs).  This replaced the 10 inch in 1987, after my first bout of aperture fever.  This telescope was severely damaged by a heater fire in December 2000 following 100,000+ variable star observations made in the 13 years I owned it.  The scope was replaced in March 2001 with the David Lukehurst 18 inch f4.4 shown on the right. Although this telescope was sound mechanically, the optical quality was poor compared with instruments I had owned before.  So despite reaching very faint magnitudes with it from Birmingham's polluted skies (mag 16.7 was the deepest recorded) I took the plunge in 2003, and moved to a computer controlled LX200 GPS.


The small telescope seen with the 18 inch is a Dark Star 8.75 inch (22cm) Dobsonian, which I can move around the garden and observe variable star fields which might be obstructed from view (hedges etc.) from the main scope.

A bit of an oddball this one, but probably the best optical telescope for Planetary observing I have ever used - a home made (not by me) 8 inch f10 Newtonian.  I owned it for a number of years during the early-mid 1990's, but eventually sold it.  Amazingly the person I sold it to donated it to my local Society in 2007, so I still get to use it from time to time!

The Meade 14 inch LX200 GPS provided me with improved optical quality, darker background fields and more comfortable observing position.  Also, despite the reduction in aperture of 4 inches, the limiting magnitude has not been affected.  On the most transparent nights (sadly becoming more of a rarity these days), this telescope can reach magnitude 16.5.


The one downside in using a GOTO scope, is that it's actually slower to locate VS fields than a Dobsonian.  It's also harder to chase holes in clouds, and being computer driven, requires more TLC!

At the end of May 2010 the 35cm Meade  was sold on, and was replaced with a 50cm (20inch) f4 Newtonian reflector from Orion Optics (UK).  First light was obtained in October 2010 (after waiting 54 weeks for the telescope to be completed by Orion Optics) and the telescope didn't disappoint.  Very little coma was visible (I do use good quality eyepieces) which means I won't be needing a coma corrector.  The 50cm mirror is a 1/8th wave PV and gives excellent Planetary views for an F4.  Quite vivid colours in some deep sky objects and more importantly mag. 17.0 surpassed visually in February 2011 (CY UMa at minimum brightness of 17.1)


This telescope is part funded through the British Astronomical Association Ridley Grant.





The telescope is housed in a small observatory at the bottom of the garden.  The roof is of 'hinged' design, and the front can be dropped down to allow views of the southern sky.  Because the telescope is situated some 5 miles north from the centre of Birmingham, the glow of the city causes major problems with any star of -10d declination or lower.  The garden is surrounded by neighbours security lighting, but the hinged roof is of benefit here, as either side can be shut whilst observing, thus shielding the telescope and observer to some degree.


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