Author Archives: Lee Sproats

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.


  • 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,...
  • Bayfordbury Observatory (University of Hertfordshire) UK PlaneWave CDK600 Installation

    The University of Hertfordshire's Bayfordbury observatory is primarily used for undergraduate tuition and is one of the largest teaching observatory facilities in the UK. It is located in relatively dark skies in the countryside about 6 outside the town of Hertford (about 30 miles north of central London) and includes seven optical telescopes permanently mounted in their own observatory, solar telescopes, four radio telescopes and some smaller instruments. Although primarily used for teaching, the observatory also run public outreach programmes too. More information on the courses offered and the activities of the observatory can be found here. We were honoured earlier this year to be chosen to supply and install a new addition to their optical telescope facilities to replace an older smaller telescope –...
  • A compact and lightweight scope for guiding: QHYCCD's miniGuideScope

    A lot of people who undertake astrophotography, whether they are beginners or seasoned amateurs, opt for high quality small aperture, short-medium focal length telescopes such as BAADER APO 95/580 CaF2 Travel Companion (#2300095 , € 4495,-) or the 8" Celestron Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph. These telescopes will give a relatively wide field of view allowing images to be taken of spectacular large celestial objects such as the North American Nebula, Andromeda galaxy, Orion nebula, Pleiades open star cluster and many many more. Guiding is essential for taking long exposure images of such celestial objects. Long gone are the days when your guidescope was a telescope that would be similar in focal length as your imaging scope and you would guide by looking at a star through...
  • The Baader UFC Tilter Adapter (Part 10)

    Baader UFC Tilter The effects of image tilt can ruin an otherwise great astrophoto. Image tilt (or image plane tilt) happens in imaging when an area towards the edge of the field exhibits out-of-focus or imperfect star images and is caused by the image sensor not being pefectly perpendicular to the light path. Focuser skewness (or "droop"), flattener/corrector lenses, extension adaptors, camera angle adjusters as well as inherent camera sensor tilt in the camera body itself are all causes of image field tilt. 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. For those that do astroimaging with our Universal Filter Changer (UFC) we are pleased to annnounce a...
  • Baader's RASA 8" UFC telescope-side adaptor (Part 9)

    Smaller-Sized Filters with Baader UFC-System : It may only be an adaptor but this little piece of anodised metal will let you use a range of popular astroimaging cameras with Baader Universal Filter Changer (UFC) on Celestron's RASA 8 telescope thus allowing you to swap filters quickly and easily. Unlike the Baader UFC telescope adaptors for the 11″ RASA and RASA 36 that are mated to the corrector lens group cell face-plate and secured with the knurled retaining ring, this adaptor screws onto the male outer threads of the lens group housing itself. So you would remove the RASA 8’s retaining, the T-2 or C camera adaptor and then the clear filter, and then attach the UFC Base with its RASA 8 UFC adaptor in...
  • Using Smaller-Sized Filters with Baader’s Universal Filter Changer (UFC) (Part 8)

    Smaller-Sized Filters with Baader UFC-System : We've been asked a few times recently on how to set up the Baader UFC for use with a DSLR and a range of wide-field imaging refracting telescopes. So we thought we would write a short blog on some ways this can be done. Let us start from the telescope side first. All the enquiries we have had, the wide field refractors have 2" barrel focusers, so there is our starting point. The telescope side of the UFC Base (to which everything else in the UFC system is connected to) uses Baader's S70 dovetail adaptors to allow the UFC to fit to telescopes. Looking at the UFC main diagram above Baader do a Baader UFC S70 / 2" SC-thread...
  • The June 10th Solar Eclipse

    In just under a month, an annular Solar eclipse will take place on the morning of Thursday June 10th. An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun but the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than that of the Sun's due to the Moon's orbit being elliptical and it being further away from our Earth (at/near apogee) at that time. This leads to the outer parts of the Solar disc being "exposed" in an annulus or ring - often called "ring of fire". For those lucky enough to live in north-east Canada, western Greenland and far eastern Russia, will get to see the annular phase event which will last for a maximum of 3m 51s over north west Greenland. For...
  • QHYCCD 268M Monochrome CMOS Astronomical Imaging Camera: Overview and a first light from Bortle 7 skies

    Cooled CMOS imaging cameras for astronomical use have come a long way over the last few years and they are here to stay. The QHY 268M PH, BSI Cooled Medium Size APS-C Camera (#1931096 , € 2820,-) camera has been hotly anticipated and has become a focus for a lot of astrophotographers for its high specifications, build and image quality. The QHY268M is a monochrome cooled CMOS camera that utilises a very sensitive APS-C sized Sony IMX571 sensor. Typical of other QHYCCD camera bodies, the 268M features a matt black cylindrical design with, in this case, a red colored band around the body at the sensor end with QHYCCD’s name and logo and the camera model – QHY268 – clearly labelled. The body is 90mm...

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