Thor Heyerdahl, great adventurer and explorer would have been 100 today.

He created a great impression on a very young lad with his book “Kon Tiki” about an expedition aboard a balsa wood raft.  I recall building my own wooden Kon Tikis and sailing them on St. Valentine’s Park pond.

Academics did not think much of Thor’s pronouncements, and likewise Thor didn’t think too much of Academics – something we both have in common.

Unfortunately recent DNA studies have shown that some of his migration theories are incorrect – but he showed us that practically such migrations were possible, even if they did not actually occur.

Great for thinking outside the box, great adventurer, great explorer, and a man who sought his own path without resorting to the support of others – a sorely missed, unique personality.

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I recently discovered that Takahashi have discontinued making the Sky 90 – mad decision IMO.  And this comes at a time when I was looking to replace the TS80 with a Sky 90 giving me a mini-WASP array with 3 x Sky 90 refractors and a 200mm lens – all with M26C OSC CCD cameras.  By sheer coincidence an astronomer colleague found himself with a mint Sky 90 (collimatable version!!) for sale.  Needless to say I have bought this together with the camera angle adjuster and the f#4.5 reducer corrector.

So the new mini-WASP configuration will be 3 x Sky 90 refractors and a Canon 200mm lens for imaging, and a Megrez 80mm guide scope.

I have this terrible niggle to put a 4th Sky 90 in the frame and use off axis guiding on one of the Sky 9os, but I know that I will become severely cheesed off with the limitations that this sort of guiding will bring.  So at all costs I must resist!!

The new Sky 90 has come along just in time for the longer nights and all the Winter goodies – now all we need are the clear Moonless skies – something that was totally missing last Winter :(

 

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I am in the final stages of setting up a new imaging system based on a Canon 200mm prime lens with M25C OSC imager and a 52 mm IDAS filter on the front of the lens giving me f#3.85 and spikeless images :)  As it is that time of the year an obvious target for testing out the star imaging qualities of the rig is the Double Cluster.  With a horrendous sampling of 7.97 arcseconds per pixel it makes you wonder how it can even resolve stars – but clearly it does :)  Above the Double Cluster we see the rarely images Stock 2 open cluster, which looks like a stick man on his side.  And at the very top/left you can just see the edges of the Heart & Soul nebulae.

Only 16 x 5-minute subs for this one, and very misty conditions too, a LOT of water vapour in the air – however, as a bonus, there was no Moon.

I think this is going to make a good rig for those BIG winter nebulae.  It is NOT a good rig for those single bright star shots as there are terrible ghost flares from very bright stars, probably resulting from all that glass in the 200mm lens.  Well you can’t have it all I guess.

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I have now removed the Canon 5D MkII from the 200mm lens in the south dome and replaced it with the M25C that used to be on the Hyperstar.

The massive field of view afforded by the 5D MkII on the 200mm lens is truly addictive – but the lack of red sensitivity of an un-modified DSLR and the lack of Peltier cooling drove me to put the M25C back on.

So – a whole Cassiopeia mosaic instead of being a 4-framer with the 5D MkII is now a 6-framer, or very comfortable 9-framer.  The price you pay I guess.

 

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Put the 5D MkII on the back of a TS80 refractor together with a 5X Barlow (not really called a Barlow then, but the name sticks).

Took 17 subs at 1/200th second and ISO800 which I stacked in Maxim.  This is the result.

See in higher resolution here https://flic.kr/p/oSq5uA

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Only 4 x 10-minute subs at ISO 800 from last night – but – I was amazed at how bright the blue-green parts of the Veil came out (and not at all surprised at the lack of red :( )

The whole of the Veil nebula easily covered and a nice open cluster NGC6940 thrown in as well.

AS I mentioned a while back, and this image confirms it, it has got to be worth putting an OIII filter on the front, going for much deeper subs, and using the massive FOV of this combo to scan for planetaries.

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Managed to capture a few 5-minute subs of comet Jacques when it was close to Epsilon Cassiopeiae on the evening of 22nd August 2014.

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Last night was one of those very rare nights.  Completely clear, Moonless, and the Milky Way like I’ve never seen it before from here – magic.

Put the 200mm lens and M26C onto Kemble’s Cascade.  31 subs at 5-minutes per sub, all subs good :)

The smudge on the bottom of the image (which I initially processed out) is in fact a planetary nebula.

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Here is a Noel Carboni process of the recent Delphinus data taken from the New Forest Observatory.

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The Canon 5D MkII/Canon 200mm prime lens combo gives a field of view that can grab the whole of the constellation Delphinus in one go!
I started imaging around 11:15 p.m. on 02/08/2014 and finally packed up at 2:00 a.m. on 03/08/2014. As I was coming indoors I saw the Pleiades low down in the NE, winter is not far away.
The data for this Delphinus image comprises 26 x 4-minute subs at ISO400 and f#4. Lodestar guiding with everything piggy-backed on a C11.

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