Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My buddy Vance sets up his FSQ, while mine sits to the right. We always enjoy setting up the "Takahashi Array" at ESP. Sadly, only a few of us made it this year, so the array is a bit smaller. Vance imaged NGC 2177 last night and I imaged M45 (Pleiades Nebula). Hopefully we'll have 'em processed by tomorrow.
We noticed at around 3am that we were the only ones still up. We found one other imager (says his name is Bob) at the other end of the field working diligently to capture the Horsehead Nebula with his ST-7. From what I could see on his laptop, he was collecting excellent data.
While imaging, Vance and I used the 3RF AP160 for visual observing. First we resolved the 5 stars in Orion's Trapezium using a Nagler 7mm. As the night went on, I started hunting for planetary nebulae. We were able to view the Eskimo and see the inner structure using a TMB 5mm Monocentric eyepiece. We also tried with a 4mm Monocentric, but it was pushing it.
Andy C. and I drove down to ESP from 3RF Comanche Springs. As we passed near Dyess AFB, we were able to see touch-and-go practice with B-1 bombers. While I've seen these in the air before, I had not seen one with wings spread out.
I bought this little Astro-Tech 80EDT (80mm ED Triplet) from my buddy Wes last year. This is a nice visual scope. I kept a Panoptic 27mm in it most of the night. The Double Cluster, Orion Nebula, and Andromeda Galaxy all looked superb.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
LuminousFilms sells this EL panel packaged with an inverter and dimmer. I placed the panel atop a semi-obscure sheet of plexiglass from Home Depot. Shooting sky flats is a thing of the past. Used it for the first time last night. Having the dimmer made it easy to shoot flats for each color filter. Since the panel is lighting up greenish-blue, flats for the green and blue filters took 1/6th the amount of exposure time as shooting for the red. I plan to search for white plexiglass next.
The illumination is distributed evenly across the panel. Best of all, it is portable. Once I figure out my permanent plexiglass solution, I will create a frame for the panel, plexiglass, and backing. In the meantime, I'm toting the panel in an art portfolio case.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I've been watching the PlaneWave group to see what kind of imaging results people are getting with the PlaneWave CDK12.5. PlaneWave claims that the Corrected Dall-Kirkham design is more affordable than an RC design, and can produce quality images. From their website:
The goal of the design is to make an affordable astrographic telescope with a large enough imaging plane to take advantage of the large format CCD cameras of today. Most telescope images degrade as you move off-axis from either coma, off-axis astigmatism, or field curvature. The CDK design suffers from none of these problems. The CDK is coma free, has no off-axis astigmatism, and has a flat field. The CDK consists of three components: an ellipsoidal primary mirror, a spherical secondary mirror and a lens group. All these components are optimized to work in concert in order to create superb pinpoint stars across the entire 42mm image plane.
I think this image speaks volumes about the performance. Seems PlaneWave's claims are accurate.
I like having long-term equipment acquisition goals. While I have my widefield dream setup, I hope to someday have a long focal length setup that is portable. For a long time, I had planned to get an RCOS 12". But I'm rethinking that based on the CDK price and performance.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This AstroMart ad is for an astrograph that I didn't know existed: the Takahashi Epsilon 200 f/4. I've seen the E130, E160, E210, and the newer E180 ED f/2.8. This E200 isn't short and stubby like the others. The owner states he purchased it in 1988, so maybe this is a predecessor to the more recent models. What intrigues me here is the generous 56mm image circle. That should be enough to cover the Kodak 16803 and 9000 chips.
Speaking of the E180 ED f/2.8, my buddies and I noticed an interesting trend. Since August 1, there have been 10 of these models put up for sale on AstroMart.com. Is this due to the tanking economy? The scope seems like a perfect fit for modified Canon DSLR cameras. Sample images validate the match up. So why the massive turnover?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Yeah, it's a bit late in the Jupiter season to be taking superb viewing, but despite calendar, I was pleased to see much cloud band detail. I was soooo focused on the surface detail that I completely missed what was going on with the moons. My dad was in town for the kids' birthdays. It was he who noticed two of the moons in close proximity. Sure enough, Ganymede and Callisto were position quite close together. In all my Jupiter observing experiences, I had never before seen this. I shoulda taken a pic. Since I didn't, here's a screenshot from TheSky v6:
If you are unfamiliar with these telescopes, allow me to explain. The C9.25 (black scope on the left) is a Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain with a 9.25" mirror for light gathering (aperture). That means it is a great telescope for deep sky objects and decent for planetary. The other telescope (white on the right) is an Astro-Physics 160 apochromatic refractor, meaning the aperture is 160mm. This telescope has no mirrors, and is well color-corrected. It is an excellent planetary viewing scope.