Current Equipment

During the years I had the chance to own and use several scopes, mounts and cameras.

My primary imaging platform is now my remotely controlled observatory, sited in Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia. This was a compulsory choice since my job took me to expatriate in Shanghai, China, where on the few nights during the year the sky is visible the limiting magnituded is around 2. Here below is my portable setup I still have at home in Italy, for the very few times a year I am back and can use it.

  • TEC Apo 140 complete with its matching field flattener: and outstanding value. This scope is very well built yet lightweight and its optical correction is great. I use it primarily for deep sky astrophotography. The large field imaged by the FLI 16803 is perfectly covered and corrected corner to corner. I also have a AP 0.75 telecompressor (27TVPH) that can be mounted with a special adapter on this OTA. The perfectly corrected field with this combination is about 33/35mm in diameter. I highly recommend this OTA.
  • Pentax SDHF75: a little scope very compact and transportable. I have used it both at the original FL ( 500mm) and in combination with its reducer 0.72x (360mm FL). I also own the original 1.4x extender. The imaging field is very flat and corrected for a circle of more than 50 mm, even if there is a little residual chromatic aberration than can be partially compensated refocusing for each RGB channel (something I usually never do). With the reducer on the field is still corrected for a diameter of about 35 mm but there is more vignetting to deal with. Unfortunately the focuser is not sturdy enough to sustain the FLI Proline or other heavy cameras, however I used it in combination with a STL without particular problems. No longer in production.
  • Pentax 67 300 ED(IF): a remarkably compact and corrected telephoto lens, with almost no chromatic detectable even on large CCD chips. Unfortunately no longer in production and not so easy to find, bought mine used on Now permanently mounted on my remotely controlled observatory.
  • FLI Proline 16803: my most recent purchase, an outstanding CCD camera, fast downloads, very low noise (mine has 5.78 electrons/ADU) and excellent mechanical construction. I use it with a 7 position filter wheel. Quite heavy camera though. Now permanently mounted on my remotely controlled observatory.
  • Astrophysics Mach1: a great mount, very precise and reliable. I mounted it over a Gemini GHS MkII QlockTripod for the ultimate transportability. Tracking is excellent and the mount has proven to be a great match for the TEC OTA.

As autoguider I use a QHY6 camera coupled to a Pentax 300mm f/4 lens. I also have access to the RC 360AM of the GAV observatory made by AstroTech that is mounted on a very sturdy Mathis Instruments MI-500 fork mount. More information here.

Following is a short list of some pieces of equipment I owned and used in the past with some comments.

Optical Tube Assemblies

  • Vixen R200SS: a very nice OTA, lightweight and with a quite well corrected optic. With its matching field corrector provided quite round stars over almost a 24x36 field. I used only with film and sold it in 2001. Collimation was held well but was quite difficult to achieve.
  • William Optics Fluorostar 100mm f/8: one of the best optics I have ever used, outstanding color correction both for visual and photographic work. Not so many units have been produced by WO as far as I know. The assembly was very nice but quite heavy and the focuser was not up to the quality of the rest of the OTA. I used it only for film photography. I sold it in 2004 to finance the TEC.
  • Vixen Visac VC200L: I bought it used for astro photography. I took several images in combination with an STL11K at prime focus (f/9) and it produced a flat and well corrected field all over the 24x36mm format. However collimation for this scope resulted to be VERY critical, the slightest misalignment produced triangular stars. I found compulsory the purchase and use of the collimation scope from Takahashi for this task. Other minor problems were some unpleasant reflections due to the three elements corrector when bright stars were in the field and the thick vanes of the secondary that made all bright stars becoming diamond shaped even with the collimation dead on. I sold it in 2007.


  • Losmandy GM8: a nice transportable mount, used for a several years with satisfaction. Owned only the non GOTO version. Tracking was good even if not outstanding. I sold it in 2002
  • William Optics GT1HD: I bought this mount directly from William and used it for a while. Tracking resulted very good and the finishing very nice but the overall stiffness was not as expected. Furtehrmore WO never succeed to fix some mechanical problems and little after my purchase they stopped the production of this mount. I sold it in 2003
  • Vixen Atlux + SS2000: a great mount, precise and transportable. I used this mount quite extensively. Mechanically the mount resulted very well made, however I found it too small to properly hold my TEC140. The SkySensor was a very reliable GOTO. I sold it at the end of 2005 to finance the purchase of the 900GTO.
  • Vixen Sphinx SDX: I bought it for my first trip to Australia. The mount resulted sturdy and well designed but with a very poor assembly. I had to disassemble the mount completely and fix several mechanical problems to make it usable. Furthermore, IMHO, the Starbook is by far inferior of its excellent predecessor SkySensor 2000. I used this mount for that trip than sold it in 2007 to finance my AP Mach1.
  • Astrophysics 900GTO: a truly artwork from AP, I used this mount before receive the Mach1. Very sturdy and precise, sold it in 2009 to finance the Paramount ME used in my observatory.

Other mounts I had the chance to own or use includes Vixen Super/Great polaris, Takahashi EM10, Losmandy G11, Mathis MI-500


  • Yankee Robotics Trifid II (KAF 6303E): I bought this camera when it was just announced and therefore had to deal with several problems, both HW and SW, mainly due to the immaturity of the product. Despite the good support from Yankee I found it difficult to use consistently and not so easy to setup. I sold it in 2005.
  • SBIG STL11K C2: a very nice camera, easy to use, worked flawlessly since the first time I plugged in. The only drew backs were the slow download speed and the difficulty of the camera to cool the noisy KAI sensor in summertime. Sold it in 2008 to finance the FLI.
  • FLI Microline 16803: a lightweight camera fitted with the outstanding KAF1603 sensor. I had only for few months, worked nicely but I had severe problems of dew on the camera optical window that prevented the camera usability with cooling below zero. I took the offer of FLI to free upgrade to the Proline after few sessions.

Click here to see my usual observing sites in Italy