Thursday, April 23, 2015

The POD has landed!

Last weekend, we made huge progress on the Skyshed POD. We finally got the POD on site, installed, and anchored. Here are the pix:

The Assembled POD On-Site

The First Step--Wall Assembly

The POD Interior

Ready for the Scope!
The site is not perfect, but it is much better than my home site, which is surrounded by tall trees; the eastern and southern horizons provide good visibility. The POD cover works very well. We had 2 days of hard, wind-driven rain after installation and the POD interior remained completely dry.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jupiter Last Night (4.17.2015)

Seeing was average last night, so this image of Jupiter is q little better than the one I took the other day. Note the shadow of a moon at the 10 o'clock position.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Eskimo Nebula. 4-17-15

The Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2392/Caldwell 39, is a planetary nebula. The shape of this nebula resembles a face in a hood. These images were taken with the 14 inch and the MCX. Exposure was 3 seconds and the images were captured just as the nebula was eclipsed by a tree!  The nebula is a greenish/blue and looks almost square in these images. I tried to get some shots without the focal reducer, but I didn't have time before the nebula disappeared behind the tree. The first image is cropped, the second show the nebula in the imaged field with a .5x focal reducer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Progress last weekend on Skyshed POD

My son Scott and I made great progress on the new POD last weekend. With great help from the POD user group and the indomitable Wayne, we got to the point where the next step will be assembly on site.

Here are a couple of pix. As you can see, the 14 inch scope fits in well, even on the wheelie bars. The  fit is snug, but with the bays, I should have plenty of room.

The Sun on 4-15-2015

The sun is putting on quite a show at the moment. The image below shows prominences, sunspots/active areas, and filaments. The complex active areas, ARs 2321, 2324, and 2325 stand out clearly on the upper right. to the lower left, ARs 2320 and 2323 are visible on the limb.

The next pic shows the upper right quadrant processed to enhance contrast. It can be a useful technique if the image is hazy or low contrast. Today, conditions were very good, as these images show.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gibbous Venus 4-5-2015

I manged to take a fairly decent image of Venus tonight. The seeing was poor and the planet was shimmering and dancing the field of view. The images were taken with my ASI120MM and ETX 125 on an iOptron SmartEQ Pro. The images were stacked in Registax and processed in Photoshop.

Venus is gibbous at the moment, but it's just a phase (sorry-couldn't resist). The phases of Venus were first seen by Galileo in 1610. As soon as he saw them, Galileo knew that Copernicus was right. Venus' phases could only be explained it it revolved around the sun. His observation refuted the idea that the Earth had a central position in the Universe and as the stationary point around which all motion revolved.

The gibbous phase of Venus is clearly visible in this image

A Hazy Sun 4-5-2015

The sun is still showing some nice activity at present. This image was taken with the PST-DS with an ASI120MM (evepiece adapter removed) held in place on the scope with a rubber band. The sky was hazy, but solar details were nicely visible. It's good to get pretty much the whole disk in a single image, but the edge falloff is pretty nasty. I'll keep working to see if I can improve the technique.

Skyshed POD XL-5

Yesterday, I began work building the new observatory, a Skyshed POD XL-5. It has been sitting in crates in my garage since November.

Dome Segrments
The POD is a think of beauty--superbly designed and tough as nails! This will be one durable building!  Yesterday, with the help of my son, Scott, we got the dome segments built. Today, we will get the wheels put into the walls. Final assembly will take place on our selected site--about a mile and a half from my house.

Outer Dome Assembly

Ready for final assembly at the site

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Murky Jupiter

Captured on 3-31-15 in very poor seeing, but at least the red spot is visible below and to the left of center. Hopefully, we'll get better conditions, soon! At least I'm not freezing at the scope!