Archive for the “mini-WASP Array” Category

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

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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Looking through this year’s captures I found one I hadn’t put up for viewing.  This is Carbon star X Cancri taken on 15th February 2015.

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A “Little Planet” shot taken this afternoon with the Canon 5D MkII and a 15mm Canon fish-eye lens.

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Nice way to start off a new month.  After 4 days of drilling, cutting, taping and wiring – the upgrade converting the mini-WASP array to the mega-WASP array is now complete.

Additions to the top plate are another Canon 200mm lens with M26C Trius OSC CCD and an Altair finder scope with web cam (a Lodestar can be swapped for the web cam if necessary).  A fifth computer was installed in the north dome ready for the new goodies and I am sharing the monitor between camera 3 and camera 5 (since both won’t be used at the same time) so only 4 monitors in there instead of 5.  Got to admit it looks a lot like a car wiring loom in there now, but I’ve done a LOT of tidying up of cables while I had to make the changes so it is a lot less messy looking now (though it is still pretty messy looking).

So that’s it for the parallel array imaging system – no more places to fit any new stuff – time to send along the good weather so I can put this thing through its paces.

Still plenty of setting up to do though before it can be let loose in anger.  Both 200mm lenses need to be aligned to the rest of the system.  Need to get good V-curves for both lenses and check that the autofocuser works o.k.  Need to move the array all over the sky and check that the Megrez 80 guider can also point through the aperture with the 2 x Canon 200mm lenses.  If it can’t then the web cam comes off the Altair finder and a Lodestar goes on for guiding – a bit of a pain, but not too bad.  With the web cam on the Altair finder I will need to get good polar alignment again as all this weight change will definitely have thrown it out a bit.  Probably a dozen more things will need sorting as I go along – but that’s the “fun” of this hobby isn’t it?

 

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