Mach1GTO German Equatorial
Winter Performance in Sub-Zero Temps
Roland's Adventures in the Bitter Cold of February, 2007

The first couple weeks of February, 2007 were cold and snowy for those of us living in northern Illinois. There were, however, several nights of clear steady skies - perfect skies for astro-imaging, but only if the equipment and the imager both had enough fortitude. Roland Christen was working on adapting his 160TCC telecompressor to work with the venerable 155EDF and took advantage of the skies to test the telecompressor, the Mach1GTO and the 6"Eagle Adjustable Folding Pier all at once. The following are some images and posts to the Astro-Physics Yahoo User Groups from his testing.

February 5, 2007

"Hi All,

Been having fun imaging in sub zero weather - brrrrrr. At least it's clear. Take a look at the images that I posted in the files section. (Pictures are below.) Note the guiding performance of the Mach1 with the 155EDF. It was set up in my observatory, so it was being sheltered from the wind to some extent, although I would guess that it would not have been affected much at all by any normal wind situation. The images show the performance of the mount and the TCC operating at F5.3, which opens up a new option for 155EDF owners for wide field imaging with the STL cameras. ... Roland"

155 f7 StarFire EDF at f5.3 with 160TCC telecompressor and SBIG STL11000 mounted
on Mach1GTO German Equatorial atop the 6" Eagle Adjustable Folding Pier.
February 2007. Machesney Park, Illinois.

The telescope setup shown in the photo above weighs in at about 46 lbs. including plates, rings, finder, TCC and STL11000 camera. The optional 10.75" counterweight shaft and three 18 lb. counterweeights were used. The 6" Eagle Adjustable Folding Pier was set at a 40" height. Even loaded like this at the mount's full capacity, the Mach1GTO performed flawlessly and the pier was rock solid.

The following screen shot shows the performance of the mount as recorded in Maxim DL during the imaging session. Note the almost perfectly flat tracking error graph and the tiny error numbers. Click on the image to see a larger view that really shows how flat the tracking error graph is!

Click Image for Larger View

"... The night was super cold, down at about -15F. My laptop had to be wrapped in bubble wrap to keep it warm enough to function. Scope and Mach1 mount worked fine with no problems. ... Roland"

The following image is the final result of this testing. It is of IC405 (the Flaming Star Nebula) and IC410, two beautiful emission nebulae in Auriga (actually, IC405 is both an emission and a reflection nebula) The image is comprised of six 20 minute exposures in H-alpha.

Click Image for Full Size, Full Resolution View.

Roland enlarged and cropped the area of the above image containing IC410 (upper right corner), and then added 6 more images to the stack to show both the exquisite pinpoint stars that the TCC carried to the edge of the field, and of course, to further demonstrate the incredible performance of the mount.

Click Image for Full Size, Full Resolution View.

There is much to admire in the Mach1GTO. It is beautifully machined, intelligently designed, precisely fabricated and assembled, and it has sophisticated electronics and servo drive controls. But the bottom line is performance and results. The mount performed beautifully, and the results posted here prove it.

As Roland has said: "The single most important item for the imager is the mount. next comes the mount. Then comes the mount.... Get the picture?"

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This page was last modified: March 7, 2007

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