SkySlab is about communicating, educating and informing on matters of Astronomy & Astrophysics and bringing images of galactic and deep space objects to anyone that is interested.

If you, as a visitor to the site, enjoy these images then firstly – thanks for your interest! Next, if you would like a copy of one, feel free to contact SkySlab.  The images on this site are, in the main, lower resolution and lower quality than are held on storage media locally.  If requested, a higher resolution image can be provided for your viewing pleasure.

Other pages on this site include a gallery of images taken by SkySlab, notes and blogs on astronomy equipment and techniques, other things that might be interesting and educational resources for the casual visitor.  SkySlab does not charge or place sole copyright on most images and in the main licenses content under creative commons licenses (for example: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic).

SkySlab was build in 2013 as a small observatory so that it’s founder could give experiences and teach more of what he likes to anyone who will listen about the wonders of the Universe and participate in the inclusive (and forgiving…and wise) community of astronomers and scientists globally.

The goal in running SkySlab as a business is to educate, inspire and lead those interested in space futures at an amateur or citizen science level.  This includes education through communication and continued production of media on space related matters; inspiration through demonstration of the practical outcomes and achievements that can gained by participating in astronomy and astrophysics; and leadership through involvement in other organisations and educational activities & providing a gateway to these for like minded people of all ages.

Future plans include developing courses on matters relating to practical amateur astronomy and citizen science and developing partnerships with other industry bodies with similar goals and interests.

SkySlab sits on top of an in-ground cement water tank (a ‘slab’) and is a building, lined and insulated for comfort and long-term storage of sensitive equipment. The roof rolls off for night-time viewing and rolls back on, secured in place with padlocks and hasps to make sure the roof doesn’t fly away during heavy winds and to keep it all secure.  A 12volt solar system is used to ventilate at all times which charges up during the day – but mains power keeps everything else running.

The shed was purchased from a place in QLD called ‘Cheap Sheds’. They were involved during the build and the concept and they were kind enough to publish it in their own blog:

Climate and viewing conditions where SkySlab is are good, not ideal, but good. We don’t get to see the stars every night, particularly over the last year where humid days, stormy nights are more frequent than not. However, Murphy said this would happen. Here’s hoping that winter nights are clear and crisp.

SkySlab tends to maintain a single configuration for a long time.  Setting up equipment of this nature is no small feat so when it is set up correctly then you try to do as little as possible to change things.  In order to take quality images of objects that generally cannot be see with the eye, there’s some maintenance required from time to time, but not much should change unless a piece of equipment is upgraded or fails (which can happen sometimes).

SkySlab’s current set up is:

  • AP1600 GTO robotic mount from Astro-Physics
  • Guan Sheng Optical, 10″ carbon fibre truss tube Ritchey-Chretien astrograph telescope
  • QHY10 CCD Camera for main photographs
  • SBIG ST-ic guider using off-axis guiding and direct drive through TheSkyX Professional (from Software Bisque)
  • Multiple adapters and developed electronic components to compensate for dew and atmospheric turbulence
  • Custom made pier and mounting plate for the mount
  • Custom built observatory (from a shed)
  • TheSkyX Professional software from Software Bisque
  • Nebulosity versions 3 and 4 to capture data from the QHY8
  • MaximDL version 5 for occasional coupling with PEMPro or other software from time to time
  • ASCOM platform for occasional coupling with MaximDL or the QHY10 and TheSkyX
  • Raspberry Pi for environmental data, webcam and still shots inside the observatory
  • Ubuntu server and associated infrastructure
  • Custom built solar-system, universe and other quantum effects for our joint enjoyment and wonder at all times

Hi and welcome to SkySlab.

I built this structure with some help in 2013 and entered into amateur astronomy in order to share what I thought of as knowledge that was not well known but when shared and discussed, made people open up and feel like Alice in wonderland.

I was very young when introduced to the professional world of astronomy.  This was through my Father’s involvement with NASA, since then I’ve not done much in the field at all, but as the opportunity presented itself I made the decision to invest time and resources and start a long journey.

By day I’m a contract and commercial manager, a father of two daughters and husband to an understanding and patient wife.  I’m still studying and will do so for a long time (hopefully).  We have a small property to maintain along with a pretty technologically complex shed!

This site should grow over time, knowledge is gathered that way.  I hope that it’s enjoyable to visit, pleasing to the eye and presents what can be gained through Astronomy in a way that makes everyone feel like there’s a wonderland worth investing time to understand.