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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Messier 4, The Cat's Eye

26 one-minute frames, 1600 ASA. This looked huge in the scope, never observed this cluster before.

Messier 65 and 66

Two members of the Leo Triplet. 42 one-minute frames, 1600 ASA, automatic dark frame subtraction. Captured 59 frames altogether, but had to toss those with tracking error. Discovered the longest I can go in this fashion with a fresh battery is 3 hours, or a little over 90 one-minute frames using up 70% of my 1GB CF card.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Messier 101, The Pinwheel Galaxy

55 one-minute frames, 1600 ASA, unmodified Canon Digital Rebel XT, automatic dark frame subtraction.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Moon in First Quarter with Mars

Ah, well. Tried to go after some other deep sky objects, but the Moon is back and light reflected from the lunar surface proved to be too much; adding an unwanted to glow to the background. Since she paired herself up with Mars, I thought this would make a nice image.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Messier 81, Bode's Galaxy

38 one-minute frames, 1600 ASA, automatic dark frame subtraction.

NGC 4565, Needle Galaxy

34 one-minute frames, 1600 ASA, automatic dark frame subtraction.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

NGC 3242, The Ghost of Jupiter

I like this one, zoomed in for this. This planetary nebula was observed in the 1830's by William Herschel. Also referred to as Jupiter's Ghost or the Eye Nebula.

Messier 53

A globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices (Berenice's Hair). Coma Berenices is not part of the official catalog of constellations, rather it is referred to as an asterism.

Messier 93

Here's a Messier original, discovered in 1781. This here batch of
stars is a mere 3,600 ly from Earth and spans some 10 to 12 ly across.
Its age has been estimated at some 100 million years. Consider for a
moment, the planet Earth is 130 times older than that.

Messier 38

Another Giovanni cluster also in the constellation Auriga, and only
4,200 ly from Earth! :)

Messier 36

My Messier survey continues. Open cluster M36 was discovered by Italian astronomer Giovanni Hodierna in the 17th century. This star cluster is 4,100 ly from Earth and approximately 14 ly across.

Messier 64, Black Eye Galaxy

My daughter wanted to capture this one, so here it is. Again, worth going back to for significantly more frames.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Wingview Observatory

The new guide scope showed up today. That's the longish telescope looking thingy on top. Quite an impressive looking rig. Looks easier to set up than it was.

The scope et al needs to be accurately balanced on the german equatorial mount. Took a little time, rotating, adjusting position in rings, adjusting seating of primary mounting plate, getting it such that it can swing to any position and stay put.

The best and simplest description I've found to describe this procedure in the correct order is at Starizona, even the scope manuals from Orion have it wrong. Amateurs will also find many sites (go search for 'em) that surprisingly instruct balancing around the R.A. first, rather than Declination axis. It is most important to move the payload (the telescope and such) center of gravity (CG) to the R.A. axis first, otherwise you'll just introduce wobble and it will mess havoc with your tracking.

The small scope near the bottom of the picture is the 9x50 finder scope. Both the small finder scope used for rough navigation and the guide scope used for extended exposure taking both have an illuminated reticle eyepiece (that would be an eyepiece with crosshairs that light up red, when you dial the eyepiece dimmer switch).

This mount will hold up to 40 lbs. without straining the motor drives. All the contraptions hoisted on the mount weigh almost 20 lbs. without the camera. The mount itself weighs in at 76 lbs, so nearly 100 pounds in all!

Below is a view of the very helpful dual mode focuser with 11:1 fine focus control, I mentioned in prior post. This is so helpful when trying to get perfect focus for taking photographs. Several snapshots at best and that's it; focused and ready to go. It's become so simple, I'm not even using the Hartmann mask anymore.

Here's "the kit." The two most excellent wide view eyepieces are sitting in the lid; one has a 2" diameter barrel, the other 1.25". The doohicky on the right portion of the lid is the laser collimator for quickly aligning primary mirror prior to taking a round of photographs. The rest of the items of course are various 1.25" barrel eyepieces providing magnifications from 40x to 300x, a 2x ultrascopic Barlow, and some filters. The camera adapters for each barrel size are in there as well.