Avery Way Observatory


Avery Way Observatory is my astronomy and astrophotography hobby. I have always been interested in the stars. In the early 2000s I read an article on the Universe Today web site about the Kuiper Belt and realised that the Solar System was a lot more interesting than a few planets orbiting the Sun. My interest grew from there. I borrowed a small telescope and took it on holiday, while away I saw Saturn magnified and it was my first astronomical wow moment! The first of many.

I did a couple of on-line courses and then an advanced astronomy course at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. I bought a 114mm Newtonian telescope on an EQ mount in 2007. Then upgraded to a 10" Dobsonian a few years later. In 2015 I started a 2 year foundation level astrophysics course at Greenwich. In 2017 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

In 2018 I bought the telescope I'm using now, a 9.25" Schmidt–Cassegrain on a CGX German Equatorial Mount. After a while I decided to try my hand at Astrophotography and bought an Altair Astro GPCam290C. It soon became apparent that the camera was hugely oversampled, ok for planetary and lunar craters but not much else, so I bought a Canon 600D and captured some noisy, wider angle images.

In 2020 I bought a cooled camera, a ZWO ASI294MC Pro. I had been using an 80mm guide scope with it but the flexure was making clear images difficult so I switched to an off axis guider in 2021. 

Construction of a Roll Off Roof Observatory went through the design stage in the autumn of 2022 while I was off work undergoing radiotherapy for prostate cancer. Construction started slowly in the spring of 2023. The ground works, concrete pier and brickwork were completed then the timber walls and roll off roof were built. Then I finished off the trims that fill the gaps between the walls and the roof. 

Before the observatory was finished, it was functioning with a laptop and an extension lead. A new supernova was discovered in Messier 101 so I captured the Avery Way Observatory First Light Image. It was my first astrophoto for 9 months, it was great to be back in the game!

The interior is now complete so I have a functioning observatory. The mount is misbehaving though and I'm struggling to get it to guide properly! I got a new guide camera for my birthday so that is helping a lot. After a bit of an investigation it became clear that the belt drives were in need of adjustment. So I stripped down the worm drives, re-greased the drive wheel cogs and re-tensioned the drive belts. 

I retired on my 65th birthday last year and my work colleagues bought me a most magnanimous leaving gift of an ASI1600MM Pro mono astro camera, an electronic filter wheel and a set of LRGB filters! So the 9.25 SCT imaging train is now an F6.3 Focal Reducer, Off Axis Guider, Electronic Filter Wheel and the  ASI1600MM. I chose the core of the Andromeda Galaxy for the camera's First Light.

Star parties are great but the CGX and SCT are a bit big for travelling with. Dismantelling the observatory equipment and then putting it all back together again is too disruptive. So this year I have bought a Grab and Go setup for travelling with. An AVX EQ mount and a 110mm ED APO Refractor.