Archive for the “Articles” Category

I had an electric focuser lying around so with a pulley and timing belt from Radiospares I put together an electric focuser rig for the Canon 5D MkII and the 100mm macro lens that took the mega-wide-field Virgo/Coma galaxies shot.  If I find there’s mileage in this approach I will invest in a prime 200mm Canon lens which has a 72mm diameter lens (and I have an IDAS filter for this lens size).

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Simon Parkin and the Meridian Weather film team – together with satellite transmission van – did a live broadcast from the New Forest Observatory on 15/02/2013, the evening of the near miss flyby of the asteroid.  Here are a couple of stills from just before the live transmission.

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I ordered a Robofocus unit for the TS 80mm triplet APO last Friday after lunch – and it arrived at 2:00 p.m. today (Monday) – and that’s all the way from the States!!  Unbelievable speed of delivery – well done Technical Innovations Inc. that really is impressive.

So I knocked up an adapter to connect the Robofocus to the 11:1 fine adjustment knob on the TS 80 refractor – calibrated the Robofocus for the full length of travel – and I’m now ready to go.  Next clear night it will be fire up FocusMax to focus train the TS 80 :)

 

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Well I don’t think there is going to be much let up in the rain for a good few months now – I have just received a new camera for the Hyperstar III.  For quite a while now I have used the faithful Starlight Xpress M25C one-shot colour CCD on the HSIII – 6-Megapixels and 2.85 arc seconds per pixel sampling – it has performed flawlessly and provided some superb images.  BUT – there’s always developmental improvements at Starlight Xpress and as I now have quite a bit of experience using the new M26C cameras on the mini-WASP array, it became clear that this should be the new camera for the HSIII.  So I’ve leapt up from 6-Megapixels to 10-Megapixels and my sampling has gone up from 2.85 arc seconds per pixel to 2.1 arc seconds per pixel.  The Hyperstar III and the M26C are going to be a formidable combination.  Last night I managed to get all the software working with the new camera and the next job is to focus train the new system using Starizona’s Microfocuser system and FocusMax.  With the system focus trained for the new camera it’s then a matter of flattening and collimating the camera using CCDInspector (and FocusMax) – and then I’ll be all set for imaging again.  Really looking forward to putting the new combo through its paces :)   Guess I also now need to create a new Category for this web site – Hyperstar III and M26C CCD images.

 

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I was sitting at the computer yesterday (Saturday) typing out some rubbish or the other when for some unknown reason I suddenly twigged how those “Little Planet” images are taken.  So I grabbed the Canon 5D MkII and a fish eye lens and ran outdoors (between the heavy showers) and took this “Little Planet” view of the New Forest Observatories.  So the idea that just suddenly jumped into my head (from the aether) worked!!  How peculiar :)

I shall now overdo it of course and start taking “Little Planet” images of just about anything I can find.

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A number of people have asked me how many stars appear in the Cocoon nebula 3-frame mosaic.  I use a program called Registar to link separate frames together so I can see how they all fit – and Registar will also do a “star count” for the stars in the image (I don’t think it is accurate to the level of a star :) )  Anyway – Registar says there are 68,200 in this image – always turns out to be a LOT less than you would guess.

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As it continues to pour with rain here in the New Forest – thoughts go back to the hot, dry days at the Starmus Festival in Tenerife June this year :)

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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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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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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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