Archive for August, 2011

Tom How spent a night over the Bank Holiday weekend at the NFO where he had a good play with the mini-WASP array – I was attempting (half satisfactorily) to polar align the Hyperstar III in the south dome.  Meanwhile Tom in the North dome was collecting some quite nice Heart nebula data from Camera 1 of the two camera system.  This image shows about an hour’s worth of data collected using the Sky 90 with IDAS filter and an SXVF-M26C 10 Megapixel one-shot colour camera.  The camera has not yet been collimated which explains the star shape changes across the FOV.  However – the camera response is much as I have seen previously with the M25C (bigger pixels) and so it proves as I had anticipated, that I will not see any reduction in sensitivity with the smaller M26C pixels as I am working at a pretty short focal length.  So – a step up from 6 Megapixels to 10 Megapixels and then times 2 for two cameras – this mini-WASP array will be producing some amazing data when it is all tuned up.

So what more needs to be done before we can see the full power of the mini-WASP array?  Not a great deal really:

1)  Properly focus train and collimate both cameras.

2)  Align cameras for slight overlap so that I can take a 4 x 3.33 degree field of view in one go.

3)  Take some new flats with a properly collimated system.

4)  Focus train for the H-alpha, H-beta, SII and OIII filters.

And that should be  it for a while 🙂

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Here are a few pictures from the day – I still can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather.  Had a few drops of rain first thing in the morning just to put the scarers on us – then cleared up beautifully for the rest of the day 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Vesta is in the news recently and here is a New Forest Observatory image of the asteroid Vesta making its way out of Leo near the bright star Algieba.

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As summer definitely starts retreating and autumn approaches a bit too rapidly – thoughts go back to a warmer time at the Starmus Festival on Tenerife – June 2011.  This is the sumptuous Abama Hotel where most of the Festival was held – it really was like something out of Star Wars springing out in the middle of a desert landscape like a fairy-tale oasis – a totally remarkable place.

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I revisited and reprocessed this data to see if I could find any of the nebulosity reported in the Sky 6.  There is some, but it is pretty faint throughout the region – you can see the very edge of the Heart nebula bottom right, so the faint stuff is almost certainly part of this.  One thing’s for sure – there are a lot of stars!

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As you probably know, the Celestron “Heavy Duty” wedge has a fundamental design fault – a large open ended box section which flexes all over the place with a heavy scope like the C11 being cantilevered all over the sky.  Up until now I have closed off the box section with some 2.2mm Aluminium sheet – but seeing as there’s been a big build going on (the mini-WASP array) and I have been in a building mood, I thought I’d really beef up the end plate for the Celestron wedge with a chunky 6mm Aluminium plate.  Picture left – I don’t think anything will be flexing anytime soon 🙂

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Have I gone a bit too far with the new warm room for the mini-WASP?

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The beginning of this ISS pass is missing (the bit on the left) – why?  Because I was pointing in the wrong part of the sky when the action kicked off and it was only when my son said “it’s behind you” in true Panto fashion that I got onto it and started imaging.  Not sure why the path is broken up into little bits in this image – if you know why, do let me know.

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The fireworks galaxy NGC6946 and  open cluster NGC6939 in the constellation Cepheus.  23 sub-exposures at 5-minutes per sub using the Hyperstar III and M25C one-shot colour camera.

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This pair of open clusters has a Milky Way backdrop and they are surrounded by faint emission nebulosity.  They can be found in the constellation Cygnus lying just underneath the Crescent nebula region.  Image taken 19th August 2009 using the Hyperstar III – 22 sub-exposures at 5-minutes per sub (equivalent to 30-minute subs on the Sky 90).

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