Author Archives: Lee Sproats

About the author

Lee Sproats

Dr. Lee Sproats has been interested in astronomy since watching Star Wars in 1977 and has appeared on the UK Sky at Night TV programme. He then went on to study Astronomy where he obtained a degree and then a PhD in the subject at University College London/Mullard Space Science Laboratory. He has worked in Australia in radio astronomy and used optical/infrared telescopes on Hawaii and La Palma and Lowell and Kitt Peak observatories in the USA. After working for the University of Surrey to promote the use of computers for teaching in UK higher education and then as an IT trainer for a stock market company, he went on to work for Greenwich Observatory Ltd where he ran their northern branch and then worked for David Hinds Ltd dealing with our and Celestron products. He is often involved in flight excursions that take passengers to observe the northern lights, has led trips to see the great USA 2017 eclipse near Hopkinsville and was lead astronomer onboard a specially chartered 737 to view the 2015 total solar eclipse at 38,000ft. Lee`s astronomical interests include Lunar observing, astrophotography, photometry and pro-am collaborations.

Since David Hinds stopped operation in December 2020, Dr. Sproats works for Baader Planetarium as our UK representative/consultant and is responsible for looking after our UK/Eire dealers, dealing with Baader Planetarium/PlaneWave/10Micron product support, writing articles and also is involved in our large telescope and observatory instrumentation projects.

  • Swapping between eyepieces: The useful Baader Q-Turret Four Eyepiece Revolver

    The planets Saturn, Mars, Venus and Jupiter are making an appearance in our morning sky making a lovely photogenic celestial lineup. About an hour before sunrise you can see the magnificent ringed gas-giant planet, and second largest planet in our Solar System, Saturn towards the south east with our red coloured neighbour Mars sitting below and to the east of it. Venus is next in line shining brightly at magnitude ~4.2 and is exhibiting a gibbous phase and very low near the eastern horizon is the largest planet Jupiter. These planets will make their way to being evening objects later in the year becoming better positioned where they will be observable for longer. Our Moon is easily seen throughout most of each month so its...
  • A Brief Overview of the Baader Tilter Family

    If you notice that the edges of your image(s) are not sharp then image tilt may be present in your system. Image tilt is caused when the sensor is not perpendicular to the light path. The cause(s) of image tilt can be many and can include flattener/corrector lenses, tilted focuser drawtube, extension adaptors, camera angle adjusters as well as inherent camera sensor tilt in the camera body itself. Being able to correct for this image plane tilt is important and essential to get perfect focused sharp star images across the field of view. Baader Planetarium currently offer three accessories - their "Tilter family" - that can help compensate for image plane tilt. Baader UFC-Tilter (#2459146 , € 276,- ) :  an S70 dovetail accessory that...
  • Baader Planetarium at the 2022 Practical Astronomy Show (UK)

    At 9am on Saturday 19th March the doors opened at the Kettering Conference Centre to welcome a long queue of visitors which had formed to attend the 2022 UK Practical Astronomy Show (PAS). This was the second time that this event has been run since its first outing 2019. Originally planned to be yearly, the event had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This event would be the first astronomy show in the UK since COVID. I attended PAS representing Baader Planetarium with a small stand. Preparation for PAS had started several weeks beforehand with a shortlist of display and demonstration products and associated information leaflets and a new pull-up banner. Due to a foot injury my wife had to...
  • Alston Observatory's (University of Central Lancashire UK) New PlaneWave Installation - Part Two

    Just before Christmas I returned to the UK University of Central Lancashire's Alston observatory to finish off installation work that was started a number of weeks earlier. The completion work had to be put on hold due to a couple of factors and for scheduling reasons too. You can read more about this first visit here. Discover this telescope/mount installation also on our observatory world map The morning of this visit's first day involved a partial dismantling of the set up. With help from Dr Mark Norris (who leads the teaching at the observatory) with some of the heavy item lifting, the L-mount was first removed and laid carefully on the floor followed by the wedge and pier flange. A new pier flange was then...
  • Upgrade of the Open University's COAST and PIRATE Telescopes on Tenerife

    The United Kingdom's Open University (OU) operates two robotic telescopes, along with an associated weather station and all sky camera, 2390m (7840ft) above sea level (and the clouds!) at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) Teide observatory on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Until mid July 2021 these two telescopes, called COAST and PIRATE, had the following telescope equipment setups: COmpletely Autonomous Service Telescope (COAST): Celestron C14 on a 10Micron GM4000, Baader Heavy Pier with FLI PL09000 camera and filterwheel and Baader filters all housed in a 3.5m Baader All-Sky Dome The Physics Innovations Robotic Telescope Explorer (PIRATE): PlaneWave CDK17 on a 10Micron GM4000 mount, Baader Heavy Pier with FLI PL16803 camera and FLI filterwheel and Baader filters in a Baader 4.5m diameter AllSky...
  • Alston Observatory's (University of Central Lancashire UK) New PlaneWave Installation - part one

    The Alston observatory is located in a rural area about 7 miles from the city of Preston in the north-west of England and is the undergraduate teaching and public outreach facility of the University of Central Lancashire's (UCLAN) Jeremiah Horrocks Institute for Astronomy, Maths and Physics. In 2015, we supplied and installed their PlaneWave Instrument (PWI) CDK700 – a 0.7m/27.5” aperture alt-azimuth state-of-the-art computerised robotic telescope. This telescope, named the Moses Holden Telescope (MHT), was their facility “centrepiece” and is one of the current largest modern robotic telescopes in the UK. You can view this telescope in an interactive 360 degree view on the University's FaceBook page and find out more about the installation on our observatory world map. In addition to this impressive telescope,...

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