Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jupiter/Moon Conjunction 11/28/2012

Taken through the trees in my yard, this is an image of the full moon and the planet Jupiter. Of course, the conjunction is simply a line-of-sight effect.  The planet Jupiter is never closer than 628 million km and can be as far away as 928 million km.  Our moon, on the other hand, is only about 384,000 km distant.  Below is another image captured later (9:45 local time) when the pair had cleared the trees. Both pix taken with a Nikon D40 DX lens zoomed to 200mm.  ISO 3200.  Exposure 1/125.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Observatory Part 12--It Works!

A major milestone was achieved last Friday--I rolled the roof off the observatory!  Conditions seemed optimal; the morning was very still with no wind, so I figured it was a low-risk as it was ever likely to be to roll the roof off by myself.  I rolled it very slowly--it took about a minute to roll it off completely.  It was very easy to move and required little effort.  I'm delighted by the result.  This week, I will begin cutting holes for the scope tripod.

The Sun on November 16, 2012

Here are a few images I captured of the sun on Friday.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Solar Imaging November 13, 2012

Today, those lucky enough to live in the southern hemisphere will enjoy a total solar eclipse today.  I am watching a live feed of the sunrise from Australia as I write this. Even though we won't see an eclipse in the northern hemisphere, the PST makes the sun exciting every day!  Here are some images I took today with the PST/SolarMaxII.

Active areas and a nice edge prominence

Dark filaments, active areas, and a prominence

An active solar disk
Here are some pix of my rather primitive PST setup.  As you can see, the whole thing is completely manual.  I use the slow motion knobs to drive the PST as I image.  I typically take around 1000 frames at 30FPS and stack and process them in Registax.
Here are a couple of pix of the PST and SolarMaxII. The converted Microsoft webcam can be seen in the second image.
PST and SolarMaxII on a cheap equatorial mount
The converted Microsoft webcam

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Observatory, Part II

This is a big update.  I've made lots of progress since the last post.  Things have gone more slowly than I would like, but since the roof went on, this has been a solo project.  The roll-off frame is now finished.  The support posts are concreted in and only very small shims were required to align the runners on the observatory interior with the runoff frame. I used offcuts as "stops" at the ends of the rails.  Here are some pix:

It was quite a job attaching the support timbers by myself.  Jamming the bottoms with a chairback while I aligned and attached the top to the runners worked surprisingly well.  I was tempted to roll the roof off, but it was quite breezy today and I was by myself--any difficulties could have been a real problem.  The side weather boards will keep the roof on the track, so I don't need to use side rails. Note that the run of is on the same side of the shed as the door.  I wanted to have the door pointing away from the nearby country road for security reasons. As you can see in one of the pix, that horizon (the west) is also blocked by a plantation of trees (walnuts, hence the observatory's name--The Walnut Ridge Observatory). It made sense to have the  runoff frame on the same side of the building.  As you can see, access is not restricted by this arrangement.

The interior is finished.  I attached hardboard to the insulated stud walls and taped the joints.  Hardboard was not a good choice as it buckles a little in differing humidities, but drywall would have been an even worse choice!  Here's the interior:

When I get the scope in as well as my desk and some posters, it should look halfway decent.  Next steps--cleanup and then scope move!

Monday, November 5, 2012

M92, November 5, 2012

It's Bonfire Night for our cousins in the UK.  IN celebration, I took this pic of M92 as an example of celestial fireworks. The image was captured on the 14 inch with a Nikon D40 at H1 (3200 ISO).  The Nikon performed auto noise reduction and the final stack was of nine 30-second exposure (using Deep Sky Stacker). The final image was processed in Windows.  Even though polar alignment was rather rough, the image shows almost no field rotation.