Archive for November, 2009

Well, not exactly the Douglas Adam’s cluster as that would look like the number  “42” – whereas this open cluster in Orion bears a striking resemblance to the number “37” and is therefore known as the 37-cluster.

The 37 cluster, NGC2169 lies around 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Orion.  Being a fairly bright open cluster we can get away with short 2-3 minute subs, and we can also get away with a short total imaging time of just a couple of hours.  You get a lot more back for your short investment in time than with many other deep-sky objects.  A little digital processing on your data (Noel’s enhance star colours helps a lot here) and you will end up with an incredible figure  “37” appearing like a Neon display in an otherwise unimpressive star background.

Just a short amount of time needed to bag this one – so you can move onto the many other gems of Orion in the same evening and grab some more data 🙂

See you again in the New Year, have a good Christmas, and let’s hope that 2010 brings us some better imaging weather than we got dished up in 2009!!

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Great day today (no – not the weather!) – put the side panels on the mini-WASP array, and Brian May sent me a copy of his new book “A Village Lost & Found”.  This is a beautiful publication and you can see the attention to detail that has gone into every part of creating this book.  Wonderful job Brian – well done – would make the Thesis look like an almost trivial exercise by comparison 🙂

With the side panels now on, it’s a matter of getting the second observatory built and buying the cameras for the two Sky 90s and the guide scope.

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I have just introduced a new print size for the deep-sky images.  You can now purchase A3 sized full-colour prints of any object you see on the NFO site.  Go to “Image Gallery”, “Purchase Images” for details.

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To load up the Sky 90s 🙂

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I bolted the mini-WASP telescope frame to the Paramount versa-plate to get a feel what the finished system will look like.  The funny-looking device sticking out the front of the frame is a counterbalance arm for the weight of all the equipment that will sit on the back of the telescopes.  I have left the two side panels off in this photo.  I have also left out the 2 Sky 90s from the bottom pair of holes as I need to remove the Robofocus units from them before fitting to the frame – I might do this tomorrow and update the photos.  The two holes at the top are for 2 x FSQ106 telescopes to be bought at some future (unknown) date, and these will be used for narrowband imaging.

This is going to be some beast to set up prior to an imaging run and I’m glad I didn’t make provision for any more telescopes as I don’t think it would be viable to get them all sorted without losing a lot of good imaging time per session.

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The price has now shot back up to £29.23 with only a 19% saving over RRP.  I have no idea what’s going on here.

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Noel has been really busy recently with a number of projects and the NFO data backlog has been steadily growing.  As we have had the most atrocious weather all weekend I decided to have a go at image processing some of this data as I’m itching to see what’s been captured.  The supernova in NGC4008 below was one of this bunch of processed images, but I also had a look at:

The mini-Coathanger cluster, 4-frame mosaic around Caph in Cassiopeia, NGC6883 open cluster and nebulosity in Cygnus, 4-frame mosaic around Schedir in Cassiopeia, Caldwell 8 (Ghost’s Goblet), and finally the interacting galaxy pair M51 in Canes Venatici.  The quality of the image processing doesn’t come anywhere near close to Noel’s standards – but at least I now have an idea what’s been captured 🙂

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I just processed this image taken back on 18th April 2009.  The galaxy in the centre of the field of view is NGC 4008 in Ursa Major and what appears to be a bright nucleus is in fact the supernova (you can check against the NGC/IC catalogue image).  There’s a huge number of galaxies in the background too.

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The modifications to the telescope frame have been carried out and I’ve just bolted all the furniture to it to check it all hangs together properly – fortunately, it does.  The two open sides of the frame have now been covered by 8mm Aluminium sheet to further strengthen the frame and hopefully this will prevent any flexure in the frame itself.  The top plate has been drilled and tapped to take both a finder scope and the main guide scope (Megrez 80mm) which is held in scope rings.  Finally the bottom plate has been drilled so that the telescope frame can bolt directly to the Paramount’s versa-plate.  I have removed the Losmandy dovetail plate completely from the baseplate so there is no chance of flexure at that particular point on the frame.

I have just posted plans for the new all Aluminium pier for this project to Eric at NTE Poole, so hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll have another critical component delivered to the NFO ready for initial assembly of the system.

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Just had two new publications for 2010 come through the post this morning – the Astronomy Now 2010 Yearbook & Patrick Moore’s 2010 Yearbook of Astronomy.  Why?  Because Noel & I managed to get an “Astronomy Now readers’ pictures of the year” with our February 2009 comet Lulin image and I wrote an article for Patrick’s 2010 Yearbook called “Hyperstar imaging at the New Forest Observatory” which includes Noel/Greg images both from the Hyperstar III and from the Sky 90/M25C.  I would also like to thank Keith Cooper for including Star Vistas in the “Books of the Year” section of the Astronomy Now 2010 Yearbook – thank you Keith 🙂

Well it was very nice to receive the above and get a little lift from this absolutely foul weather we’ve been suffering.  Monsoons and gales means I haven’t taken an image for a very long time now – the last one was a frame for the Heart nebula – and that was on Sunday 25th October 2009 – and I still need to try and get two more frames for that one 🙁  Suffering withdrawal symptoms, but that’s not too unusual for November, very often I’ve found November with all its promise of long evenings is actually a poor imaging month purely due to the weather.  Let’s hope these gales blow the clouds away and we get a couple of imaging evenings (at least) before we enter the final month of the year.

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