Archive for the “mini-WASP Array” Category

The creation and use of the New Forest Observatory mini-WASP array

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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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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Lovely clear night again last night, but with a blazing Moon in the south it meant imaging towards the north.  Decided on a cluster rich region close to Ruchbah in Cassiopeia as the target.  Mini-WASP array, all 3 cameras firing, 20 subs at 5 minutes per sub on each camera.  Looks like cloud tonight, so I’m glad I made the effort to get some imaging done last night.

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It’s 11:30 p.m. – I’m in the NFO control room.   Queen is on BBC4 and “Hammer to Fall” is blasting out, expecting the ASBO to be delivered any second.  All 4 computers monitors on, I’m imaging 7 clusters and a planetary nebula near Ruchbah with the mini-WASP array.  Can it get any better than this?  I think not :)


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Lovely clear evening last night, but there was an annoying Moon hanging around for most of the imaging session.  Never mind, the Moon isn’t too much of a problem when you’re taking star shots.

The one frame has caught two Carbon stars in the constellation Sagitta.  The central star is X Sagittae HD190606 and towards top right is BF Sagittae (looking a lot less red) GSC 1629:945.  Carbon stars are invariably (no pun intended) variable stars and typically the brighter they are (during the variable period) the less red they appear.  Maybe BF Sagittae was near peak brightness??

Image captured using all 3 cameras on the mini-WASP array, 255-second subs and around 20 subs per camera.

Slowly working my way through the Carbon Star Observer’s Checklist :)

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