Archive for the “Projects” Category

Projects undertaken at New Forest Observatory

I had discussions with a book publisher yesterday to see how he felt about a “photography book” project I have been mulling over for around 2 or 3 years now.  I am pleased to say that he thought it was a good idea, so now the hard graft begins of putting it all together.  This is a “specialist” book, so it’s not about going out and taking snaps with your new DSLR, it includes Deep-Sky imaging, photomicroscopy, macrophotography, high-speed photography, pinhole camera photography, special effects photography like “Little Planet” images, and there is even an Appendix on Computer Generated Imagery.  I estimate this to be around 250 pages long, coffee-table book size (in landscape format) and printed to an extremely high quality to bring out the best in the images.  Current estimate for draft completion – around September/October this year.  We’re off!!

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Since First Light at the beginning of 2013, the mini-WASP array has undergone a number of changes.

The current status of the array is:

Megrez 80 guide scope with SX guide camera linked to M26C camera 1.

Sky 90 imager with f#4.5 reducer/corrector and filter-wheel with H-alpha, H-beta, OIII and SII filters (IDAS filter always on) and an M26C CCD (camera 1).

Two TS 80 refractors with correctors and IDAS filters and also with M26C CCDs (cameras 2 & 3).

A Canon 200mm prime EF lens with a Geoptik adapter to take the fourth M26C imaging CCD.

So the array has the potential to download 40 Megapixels worth of data in one shot.  Nice :)

See the current configuration here.



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Went into the garage and loaded up the pinhole camera tonight :)  All set and ready to go.  Will put it out tomorrow (one day early) and take it down on 22nd June (one day late) if I can keep my paws off it for that long.  Fingers crossed for a 6-month sub-exposure.


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I am putting together a new pinhole camera for this coming December 21st 2013 (Winter Solstice).  It will remain outside recording whatever Sun there might be until June 21st 2014 (Summer Solstice).  Big difference from the earlier pinhole photographs I have taken though – this time I went and bought some 8 x 10 inch photopaper :)  Too big for the standard beer can – but a perfect fit in a 4-inch diameter piece of  plastic drainpipe.  A couple of layers of Aluminium foil around the pipe to ensure it is light-tight, and a couple of (black) watertight drainpipe end-caps to seal the ends against light and water.  The pinhole itself is made into a piece of Aluminium foil which is stuck over a 1″ diameter hole drilled into the side of the pipe.  So this goes out on Friday evening and I have a 6-month wait to see whether the idea has worked or not.  Check back on June 22nd for the answer :)

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I put together a little montage of the 3 brightest stars for those living in Northern latitudes.

You can see the image here.

Sirius, Arcturus and Vega to similar scales and total exposure times, so this is relatively how they look to one another in the night sky.

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Clear Moonless night last night and I imaged a Carbon star near Caph in Cassiopeia.  Mini-WASP array, all 3 cameras, 19 subs at 4-minutes per sub.

Couldn’t believe when I loaded up this image that I’d done it last month :(  Need to get a grip!

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Ended up in getting 15 subs per camera at 10-minutes per sub on the Bubble nebula region in Cepheus last night.  Needs about the same amount of data again to bring out the faint stuff, or maybe some H-alpha narrowband data using the Sky 90.  Trouble is, clear Moonless nights are in very short supply and there’s so much out there to capture :)


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And I’m imaging M52, the bubble nebula, NGC 7538 and NGC 7510 with a single mini-WASP frame.

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Flitting through a planetarium program I stumbled upon a nice bright Carbon star in Corona Borealis.  Designated SAO 84015 at magnitude 6 this should look really great!  So a couple of nights ago I fired up the mini-WASP to grab this one, 5-minute subs, all 3 cameras.  First sub came down and – nothing.  No bright star near the centre of the field of view at all.  Strange.  Never mind, I just left the mini-WASP running as I have done this sort of thing before where I’ve been a little off in pointing the scope.  Next day I process the data – and – still nothing.  Open up the planetarium program and compare with my image – I find SAO 84015 on my image and it is sitting there at about magnitude 14??  So now we start to go deeper.

A bit more investigating shows that SAO 84015 is much more well known as R Coronae Borealis (even I have heard of that before) which shows odd “inverse nova” behaviour.  I knew that it often dimmed from mag 6 to mag 14 but after a few weeks or at most months at minimum it would slowly climb back up to mag 6 again.  Could I have been plain unlucky and caught it at its minimum?  Start digging again.

Looks like R Coronae Borealis took a dive around 2006 – surely it hasn’t been at minimum all this time has it?  It has never shown that behaviour before.  Contacted a few star experts and – yes – that’s exactly what’s happened.  R Coronae Borealis took a dive all those years ago and is still languishing down at mag 12 – 14 with no immediate signs of recovery, how weird.

So now I’m playing a waiting game, waiting to see if and when R Coronae Borealis once again blazes away at mag 6.  If I can get another image with the star at maximum this will make a really interesting image pair – what a huge contrast in star brightness!!


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Another object bagged by the mini-WASP array during the recent period of clear Moonless nights.  This time it is the Globular Cluster M10 in the constellation Ophiucus.  7 x 10-minute sub-exposures on all 3 cameras.

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