Archive for the “Projects” Category

Projects undertaken at New Forest Observatory

Last night, for the first time since I put it together, I have been able to use the 2 x Canon 200mm lenses (and M26C Trius cameras) as intended.

The whole idea with this rig was to get two horizontal frames for a very large FOV mosaic, so that the overall frame would be almost square.  The other reason for going for 2-framers with the 200mm lenses is that time-wise I would be able to do the equivalent of a single (200mm) frame with a 4-framer using the Sky 90s, and as there are 3 Sky 90s then it would almost take the same time as well – so pointless doing a single frame with a single camera on the 200mm lens.  Not so pointless with 2 lenses, but I didn’t have 2 when I was working this all out months ago.

Carrying on.  I had 3 hours of imaging time from 11:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. when the Crescent would transit so I managed to grab 10 x 15-minute subs on the left hand frame and 12 x 15-minute subs on the right hand frame.  A single frame measures 398 x 267 arc minutes.  Not enough time spent on this for a high quality image but at least it shows that the general principle works as expected.  Now all I need is some longer nights, some clear Moonless skies – and this kit will ROCK :)

 

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I have just assembled this DNA model that comes from Cochrane’s of Oxford.  It is extremely well thought out and the instructions for assembly are quite excellent given the complexity of the thing being put together.  When I first saw this kit I thought that it was a little expensive for what was being offered – I now think it is very good value for money indeed!

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Clear Moonless night last night and good seeing – BUT – only 3 days before the summer solstice meant that the sky never really got dark and it was perhaps a bit stupid to image a nebula rather than a star field.  Never mind – live and learn – I have never taken an image this close to summer solstice before so didn’t realise it was a bit of a pointless exercise with an OSC.  Using both Canon 200mm lenses and both M26C OSC CCDs I managed to grab 20 x 15-minute subs on this one, so if the sky had only been dark this would have turned out pretty nice – 5-hours worth of 15-minute subs is nothing to be sniffed at.  So I will wait for darker nights before having another go at this one, but looking at this result, it’s got to be worth another try under better conditions.  In the meantime – if I get any more clear Moonless nights I think I will continue with the Lyra 4-framer, of which I currently have one frame.

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Just a reminder that you can see most of my Astronomical images on Flickr.

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A couple of nights ago with a full Moon I took some Arcturus data with the 3 x Sky 90s.

I combined the recent data with some taken a while back and came up with this result :)

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Here is a CCDInspector result from one of the 200mm lenses with an M26C Trius OSC CCD from last night:

 

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Last night I used the two Canon 200mm lenses and M26C Trius OSC CCDs to image the left hand half of Corona Borealis – the idea eventually to make a 2-frame mosaic showing the whole of the constellation.  When I processed the image this morning I was very surprised to see that R Coronae Borealis was blazing away (relatively speaking) at magnitude 8.  Why was this such a surprise?  Because when I imaged the same star in August 2013 with the 3 x Sky 90s for quite some time I was really disappointed to find that I could hardly see the thing.  Looking it up on Wikipedia I saw that it was not only at its minimum, but it had also been down there for the longest period in its (recorded) history.  So at that point I forgot all about R Coronae Borealis – until this morning :)

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It was a beautiful clear Moonless night last night (we don’t get very many of those in a year) and instead of imaging I was setting up :(  These things unfortunately need to be done, shame it was under almost perfect conditions though.  Never mind.  So I was working on the two Canon 200mm lenses and their Trius M26C cameras last night.  Both lenses are now aligned with the Sky 90s so everything on the megawasp array is pointing to exactly the same point in space – great.  Next was focus training.  Tom How not only built a second autofocuser unit for the second 200mm lens, he also swapped out the original stepper motor I had for one with much finer steps.  The result is that I now get great V-curves from both lenses and I only now need to click on “Focus” in FocusMax for both lenses to come to a very good focus.  Excellent!!  So the last job to do is to flatten the new Trius M26C to the optical train using CCDInspector.  It’s now 12:30 a.m.  CCDInspector running, camera downloading images for inspection – yes it is a little bit out (the other 200mm lens and M26C is almost perfectly flattened) so I just need the Allen keys to adjust the second camera.  I can’t see them.  They aren’t where I usually leave them.  There’s been a big tidy up in the observatory especially as there is now yet another computer in there (making 5 in all) and I know I put them somewhere safe and obvious – but I can’t see them.  O.K. it’s 1:00 a.m. now and I’m just going to break something if I carry on, so I shut down for the night and come indoors.  Brushing my teeth before bed, of course, I remember where the Allen keys are – I put them in a clear plastic bag and stuck them to the side of the pier where they would be obvious!!  Go out this morning and check – yep of course that’s where they are.  Very annoying I didn’t get EVERYTHING set up and ready to go for the next rare, clear, night – but that’s the nature of this game.  Pure frustration and annoyance for 360 nights of the year for the joy of 5 nights of great imaging.

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Here is the latest state of play on the array now known as the “megawasp” array :)

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I was looking at the pinhole camera image taken Winter Solstice 2013 – Summer Solstice 2014, and I realised there was an image I could take using the same kit that would be extremely interesting, and as far as I can see – it hasn’t been done before.  So I’ve dug out the BIG (4″ diameter drain pipe) pinhole camera and the 8 x 10 inch photographic paper ready to re-mount the camera on the south-facing house wall this Summer Solstice.  There will have to be a film change at the Winter Solstice, and then it needs to be left until Summer Solstice 2016 before I know whether the idea has worked or not.  So a year-long photographic experiment will soon begin at the New Forest Observatory :)  Getting all excited now.

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