Archive for February, 2011

Unbelievably it was clear last night – and no annoying Moon to contend with either!  But what to image?  I have the H-alpha filter in at the moment so I went for the faint supernova remnant in Cassiopeia – CTB1.  And it is faint!  However – I could actually see it on each of the half-hour subs which is more than I can say when I used straight one-shot colour (no H-alpha filter) a while ago.  On the minus side I think that I will still need about another 8-hours on this object to bring it up to New Forest Observatory quality 🙁

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The Sun track pinhole camera image made it into the Daily Mail online 🙂  Not exactly an accurate representation of what went on but I am rather used to it by now 🙂

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Noel has recently processed just about the only image I’ve taken since the beginning of November 2010 – astronomy-wise, this is the worst spell of weather we’ve had since I started imaging in the Winter of 2004!!  I was hoping that 2011 would bring a change in the wet, grey weather, not so far it seems 🙁  Is the mini-WASP array ever going to get used?

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Gave a talk on “The Magic of Photography” yesterday to the Rhinefield Probus Group.  Nice turn out and some very good questions!

You will see a new Page Heading above, namely APODS/EPODS where I have listed all the APODS/EPODS published since I started submitting images in 2007.

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Also on this Valentine’s Day – you can hear the Radio Solent interview where I discuss the pinhole camera photograph of the Sun’s tracks over a 6-month period.  Tune in to Radio Solent at 4:55 p.m. to listen in 🙂

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Please note the new category above, in the header bar, for the New Forest Observatory.  In this section I will list suppliers who have generously helped out with the creation of the mini-WASP imaging array.  First in the list is Kieron of SCS Astro who over a year ago managed to track down a new Paramount for me at an extremely good price.  Thank you Kieron!!  I am hoping that other suppliers will follow suit and allow me to get this project off the ground during 2011.  The above “sponsors” section will tell you how successful (or not) I am in moving this project forward during the year.

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As we leave winter and start heading for spring I am coming out of hibernation and beginning the final thrust of getting the mini-WASP array on-line.  Next week I am getting in some quotes for the concrete block and decking to go in and I’m checking out the prices for a new dome and new cameras.  I am extremely lucky that my nephew Dave Parker (the guy that created this web site) gave me a pile of computer gear he no longer needed – I am currently getting a mini-ATX system up and running with XP Professional for the second computer that I will need in the new dome.  So the interim mini-WASP system will be two Sky 90s with cameras and a Megrez 80 guide scope with guide camera.  This setup will give me a high resolution imager with a 4 x 3.33 degree field of view.

The final iteration of the mini-WASP array will use 4 Sky 90s each with its own camera giving me a high resolution 6 x 4 degree field of view!!  What a beast that will be 🙂

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Well – a very nice and totally unexpected surprise this morning (thank you Jim!) when I opened the EPOD (Earth Science Picture of the Day) page and saw my pinhole camera image of the Sun’s path across the sky.  Taken using a beer can as the pinhole camera (long axis vertical!) the image shows the Sun’s path across my southern horizon over a period of 6-months from the Summer Solstice (June 21st 2010) to the Winter Solstice (December 21st 2010).  The light coloured object in the lower foreground is the fibreglass dome of the New Forest Observatory, and the light (banana-shaped) object in front of that is the cedar garden table which is actually oval in shape.  The reason for using a beer can as the pinhole camera is that it is the perfect size to take the 5 x 7 inch Ilford  photographic paper that records the image – you curl the paper around the inside of the beer can and there is a 5mm gap where you place the pinhole).  Do not sand off the burr of the pinhole, you need to be able to feel it on the inside of the can when you load the paper (in the dark of course) so that you don’t accidentally cover the pinhole with the paper!  What is amazing about this process (Justin Quinnell gives full details on his web site) is that you don’t need to develop the photographic paper.  The pinhole image “burns” itself into the paper over the 6-months of exposure time and all you need to do when removing the photographic paper from the pinhole camera is to quickly get it into a digital scanner to “lift” the image off the paper.

I have two more pinhole cameras currently imaging my southern horizon – but these are made from tin tea caddies (also a perfect size for the 5 x 7 inch photographic paper).  The main difference with these cameras is that this time the photographic paper is FLAT within the camera rather than curled round as it is in the beer can.  This means I will get an undistorted view of the Sun’s path across the sky this time – just have 5-months to go before I can see the result 🙂

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Went to AstroFest yesterday to catch up with as many equipment vendors as I could – had a great time there.  Met Garik Israelian on the Starmus stand, Gordon Haynes on the Widescreen Centre stand, Michael Hattey on the Starlight Xpress stand, Gary on the Pulsar Optical stand, and Kieron on the SCS Astro stand.  Also “Hi” to Maury and crew on the Springer stand 🙂  Pretty busy (for a Friday) lots of people milling about and quite a few sales being made from what I could see – excellent given the tough economic climate.  Did I succumb at all – yes dammit, I knew I shouldn’t have gone along – but the new Pulsar 2.2m dome is just perfect for the new mini-WASP array with its ultra-smooth rotation and much wider aperture – I have to have one.  So the back garden is going to look like the Keck at this rate 🙂

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Simon Parkin showed the New Forest Observatory “37” cluster image on his Meridian Weather slot last night.  The 37 cluster is an amazing asterism in the constellation Orion which is now crossing our southern horizon during the evening.  Thank you Simon for once again choosing an NFO image for your weather slot 🙂

See the video here.

Copyright Meridian News & Weather.

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