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Showing posts from December, 2010

New Imager

I just completed work on modifying a Lifecam HD to work as an astroimager.  The work involved removing the front lens and reassembling the camera in an eyepeice extension tube.  You can find detailed instructions on how to do this on the web.  It looks a lot harder than it is. The hardest part was getting the lens assembly off the circuit board; the screws are very stiff.  My standard mini screwdriver did not have a long enough shaft to give the leverage I needed to get the screws out.  I managed to borrow one with a long and thick plastic handle; it worked very well.  My tests with the cam imaging interior objects with a camera lens indicate that the imaging chip does well in low light and noise seems to be well controlled, especially for a CMOS imager.  Stay tuned for details on testing; so far, the weather is not cooperating (of course).

And before I forget--seasons greetings to everyone who stops by this blog!

Winter!

The weather continues to be awful here in Indiana.  Snow and cloud!  No chance to get the scopes out and look around.  I am excited by a book i just read about amateur detection of extrasolar planets.  It sounds as if it could be a really interesting project!

Sun pix for December 10

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I think I am getting the hang of imaging a little better. I have found that confocal imaging seems to be the only way to get a digital DSLR to work with the PST.  I have tried the mod of unscrewing a barlow lens from its tube and screwing it onto the bottom of the eyepiece adapter.  I can get close to focus this way, but I hit the end of travel on the PST focuser before I actually achieve it.  I hope to be able to adapt a webcam soon and to experiment with it.

The pix below were taken in burst mode and processed in Registax and the standard Windows photo processing package.  I have a much better package of my own, but I need to install it on my (relatively) new laptop.  Click on each image and you'll see a bigger view.

The first image has been enhanced to show surface detail.  Notice the detail around active area 1131 and the filament about this area.  The "orange peel" texture of the sun's "surface" is fairly well displayed.



The second is processed to show…

Sun pic

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Here's an unprocessed pic of the sun taken confocally. The filter was tuned to show surface detail rather than prominences. Spot 1131 is clearly visible, with 1133 above and to the right.  Note the structures around 1131.  Temp when this pic was taken was 18 degrees F--pretty darn cold, but worth it.  Much more detail was visible with the eye, including a large filament between 1131 and 1133.

Coronado First Light!

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I must have been a very good person because today the skies cleared around lunchtime and I was able to take the Coronado out for first light.  I mounted the scope on a Bogen tripod (one I use with my ETX 90).  The solar finder makes finding the sun easy and a centered solar image in the finder put the sun right in the middle of the field of view.  I plugged in the 12mm Kellner and took a look.

Experienced amateur astronomers know not to expect too much when they look through a scope; they know it takes time and patience to tease out details.  But that was not my experience with the Coronado.  I took one look and could see a huge prominence at the 2 o'clock position on the sun and a large group between the 7 and 8 position.  A tweaked the tuner and they jumped in brightness and detail.  Active area 1130 was clearly visible, with significant amounts of surface detail.

I tried to image with a T-adapter and with a barlow--no luck on getting focus, but I was on a tight schedule, so I …

Merry Christmas!

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I just got an amazing delivery!  Santa has come early with the most amazing gift--a Coronado PST.  Of course, the arrival of this wonderful piece of engineering guarantees another 10 days of cloud. I came into my office to find a large package standing in the corner.  I opened it up, and inside was a smaller package.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the PST box in this smaller package.  So here are some pix and observations as I unpacked the instrument:


The box alone is designed to make an astronomer's heart beat a little faster!  Inside is a very nice and functional carrying case:



The case is sturdy and feels solid.  Unlatching it reveals the treasure within! 
The warranty is for 5 full years and the serial number and other information is hand-written on the card.  Also included is the user manual, which is a simple and clear instruction sheet.  I suspect this has been updated as, unlike earlier sheets, it contains information on tuning the filter.  Removing the paperwork …

News Update

To add insult to injury, not only are the skies cloudy, but it is snowing.  The forecast is that it will end by noon, but I'm not hopeful as I look outside; it seems pretty settled-in to me. 

There are a couple of news items worth mentioning.   Those of you who follow astronomical news will be aware of the disappearing belt on Jupiter.  The South Equatorial Belt (SEB) went missing about a year ago.  Amateur Wayne Jaeschke is tracking a significant disturbance in the planet's atmosphere that seems to presage the return of the belt.  Stretching almost halfway around the planet, the disturbance has grown significantly since it was first detected in October of this year.  It is easily visible in most amateur scopes, and amateurs are encouraged to monitor the belt's possible return.

Late yesterday (Nov. 30), the sun produced a B-class flare with associated coronal mass ejection (CME).  It's too early to say if the CME is headed our way, but we might be in for some high-lati…