About Orion Ranch Observatory

Welcome to Orion Ranch Observatory!  Located in the Texas Hill Country, northwest of Austin, TX, Orion Ranch is the the home to a 600 square foot roll-off observatory and warm room in addition to the livestock and wildlife.

The observatory equipment includes two 11″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes (SCTs), one dedicated to visual use and the other for astrophotography.

For wider field work I also have a number of refractors from 3″ to 6″ in aperture.

For a bit of a historical perspective on how this observatory came to be, check out this blog article on the culprit that started it all.

Right now the primary feature of this site is the picture gallery, of course!  From there you can see samples of my astrophotograph and other artistic photograph,  as well as the entire construction history of the observatory and various technical topics.  You’ll also find a weather page showing the conditions at the observatory, updated every 15 minutes, and the clear sky chart on the main page.  There’s also a “webcam” link on the weather page that will show you a full size view of the current sky conditions over Orion Ranch.

I hope you enjoy your visit.


Dr. Michael D. Foegelle

11 Responses to About Orion Ranch Observatory

  1. Peggy Doherty says:

    Thanks for sharing the pics of your Observatory. My husband is so into this stuff, I had bought him a little telescope a few years back and we will try to get out back when things are going on, but his scope is not like yours. He was amazed at the pics you had taken, again thanks for sharing.

    Tim & Peggy Doherty

  2. James Dire says:

    My brother owns a ranch bordering the east city limits of Burnet, TX where I keep an 8″ dob to use when I visit. I have also observed and spoken at the Eagle Eye Observatory on Lake Buchannan where the light pollution is not as great. Hope the Orion Ranch is west of Llano. The skies get incredibly dark about 10 miles west of Llano!

    • foegelle says:

      Thanks. Actually, it’s in the Bertram area, which is about 10 miles East of Burnet. Pretty much surrounded by light pollution, but still better than closer in to Austin!

  3. Maxx Brodeur says:

    Hello from Québec !
    I have a nexstar 8se and I take pictures of the sun ,the moon ,the planets.
    I would like to go further and give a try with deep sky imaging ,but I dont have any reference photos and datas…from other 8se owners!
    My scope is on an heavy duty wedge !
    I see someone has a set up with an 8se. can I see some pics and some datas from that
    thank you !

  4. Lee Maisel says:

    Hi Michael!

    I saw your post on CN
    I have a CGE Pro (most recent revision, as is yours), and am losing my mind trying to get the RA worm meshed properly. apparently at some point, both of the rear locknuts came loose, and allowed the whole assembly to move side to side, also, the silver adjustment screw by the spring, the nut apparently vibrated loose, and is allowing free travel.
    I have tried and tried, and Celestron hasn’t been of much help, do you have any insight as to the magical incantations that must be made to get this thing properly aligned/meshed?


    • Michael Foegelle says:

      Hi Lee,

      I played with it a bit and think things improved at least for a while, but can’t say I think I’ve resolved my issue completely. I certainly haven’t dug into all of the components so I can’t really tell you much about what you’re facing, although I sympathize with your plight! I had something similar when I first got my Deluxe CPC where I discovered that the pin that the whole motor assembly twists around to mesh the worm had slid out on the DEC axis and the whole thing rocked back and forth on half the hinge. I’d suggest responding to the post or starting a new one on CN and getting what help you can there. I’ll provide feedback as I’m able, but detailed pictures of everything you’re seeing is probably a good starting place.

      Good Luck!


  5. Hi appreciate the info on taking apart the CPC. I have a CPC 1100 that was highly modified by someone else. Everything works well except guiding in one axis in y. Been an issue since we moved here 3 years ago. My guess is something loosened in the move and I have not nailed it down yet. Your images are the only images I could find of a CPC clutch assembly. My guess is that the set screws and nut are loose which is causing too much play which gives too much backlash. Lst time I had it apart I did not realize there were set screws on the clutch! I checked into someone else doing an upgrade and at 700+ dollars I am doing it myself!

    • Michael Foegelle says:

      Hi Paul, glad to help. When you say “guiding” are you referring to autoguiding in declination? If so, then you’re probably facing a bug in the Celestron firmware that I finally deduced after having the same problem with every Celestron scope I’d had (8SE, CGEM, CPC, and finally CGE Pro). Mechanical adjustment may improve it, but it won’t fix the underlying problem in the firmware design. Celestron fixed it in the CGE Pro right about the time I found it, but it still took them a couple years to release it publicly. At the time, they weren’t sure they were going to fix any of the older scopes, including the CPC, but you might try a firmware upgrade and see. I’ve posted elsewhere about the problem, but don’t have time to dig one up at the moment. I might just add a blog post for the heck of it!



  6. Simon says:

    My name is. Simon and live in the UK and have had my nexstar 11″GPS for about 14 years now (Great. Scope).
    I need your help with the celestron /arduino nano GPS unit,
    This what I have done so far.
    Built bread board test rig with GPS unit and arduino nano
    Loaded the sketch for GPS unit your modified one,software serial reads it correctly etc
    Removed the restors on the board but still not working it seems meed to load something else but
    bait confused off what to load tothe nano.
    Many thanks

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