Archive for July, 2011

I just processed this data from September 2nd 2010 to keep my hand in 🙂  This colourful cluster (which is rarely imaged) is Stock2 and it lies in the constellation Perseus – right next door to the Double Cluster – which is why it rarely gets a look-in.  This pretty cluster covers a lot of ground as this image was taken with the Sky 90/M25C combo which gives a massive 3.3 x 2.2 degree field of view.  In this image North is to the right as the camera was used in “portrait mode” on the Sky 90.

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Here is a view inside the dome on this sunny Sunday 🙂  The cables are all attached (both ends) and virtually every socket of the two Belkin extension leads is taken up.  Now need a clear night for Polar Alignment – the LR44 batteries have arrived for the illuminated reticle.  Bought from I paid the princely sum of £1.99 for ten (yes that’s 10) LR44 batteries – WITH FREE POSTAGE.  How can they possibly do that?  Don’t know, don’t care – what I do know is I’ve paid that amount for one battery in a store 🙁

So – we are rapidly approaching “First Light” for the mini-WASP array.  Cameras and filter-wheels have been fired up and checked – it’s all systems go.  Tom How has built half of the dome rotator unit (we will have two stepper motors to not only have redundancy but also to reduce the load per motor) – it looks VERY beefy and capable.

Complete robotic observatory is on the cards now, rain sensors, dome aperture automation…………….. a never ending list.

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Tom spent another full action-packed day at the New Forest Observatory helping out with the monumental IT problems and getting all the bits together for a computer-controlled stepper-motor-powered dome rotator.  All very impressive stuff and mostly well beyond me – but hey – it all works great!  I can now control the two mini-WASP array computers and the single Hyperstar computer from the comfort of the study.  I knew those 4-screens were going to come in really  useful some day 🙂 🙂

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This is data from 10th November 2010 and this time I have used all the 54 sub-exposures (4-minutes per sub) by treating the raw data slightly differently.  If I simply colour convert the 16-bit FITS files, then some come out as if there was cloud (or fogging of the CCD).  If however I first convert to IEEE floating point format and then do the colour conversion – the problem goes away – not sure why – don’t care why – it allows me to use all the data and that’s all I care about.

I have shown this one before a while back.  I looked at my star map to find two differently coloured (bright) stars that were also pretty close together so that I could get both in the FOV of the Sky 90/M25C.  Having done Albireo a long while ago, I found this beautiful star-pair Algol (beta Persei) and Rho Persei in Perseus.  Processing by yours truly 🙂

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Some more old data off the hard drive – this time from 3rd March 2011 – 47 sub-exposures at 5-minutes per sub using the Sky90 and M25C combo.  NGC7788 and NGC7790 a pair of open clusters in Cassiopeia – North is to the right in this image.  You can also see a small region of emission nebulosity which I can’t find on The Sky 6.  Anybody know what it is?

You will see in the comments below that Tom How identified it correctly as SH2-168.  The reference to CTB1 is an “in joke” 🙂

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Rainy day so I looked up an old piece of data to process – this one from March 2011 just came to hand.  O.K. fairly boring star field – why on Earth did he bother with this one?  It’s only 8 subs at 300 seconds per sub, but the answer lies right in the middle of the image, get your magnifying glass out 🙂  I did a quick image of this region and then decided that the object was just too small to bother taking any more data.

So I get it right – this is planetary nebula NGC2372 in Gemini – and it’s a little’un!

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Put a Gigabit LAN card in the old white computer (the one on the right in the bay) and fitted an Aluminium bracket loaded with cable ties to take (most of) the cables from the Paramount to the computers, off the floor and above the swinging counterweight arm.

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Here is the current state of play with the mini-WASP array project.  Kieron of SCS Astro came to my rescue yet again with a third Paramount counterweight that I desperately needed before firing up the Paramount with the Sky 6.  Thank you for bailing me out yet again Kieron 🙂  As you can see I haven’t bothered with any cable management at present, and that mess of spaghetti doesn’t even include the two cameras with their power supply leads, the autoguider connections, or the filter wheel USB cables – so there’s plenty more to get in there yet.

In the above picture the Paramount is pointing towards Polaris according to the Sky6 – so next clear night the idea is to shift the mount so that the mount’s optical axis is aligned to Polaris, then align all 4 telescopes to Polaris (visually).  Next the cameras and filter wheels go on and the Paramount is re-balanced.  Then I drift align the mount and finally I run a T-Point to get a map and to fine tune the Polar Alignment.  At this stage I will run a periodic error correction program to fine tune the tracking and then finally after all that I might even start taking some images – so there’s plenty of things to do yet before true “First Light”.

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This man was walking on the Moon!


And so was the guy on the left in this shot:

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Just a reminder that non-astronomical piccies that I used to post on this site can now be seen on my Scientific Artist web site.  So those high-speed flash, mega-panoramas, macromosaics and micromosaics can now be seen over there 🙂

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