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The Up-To-Date Guide on Stargazing With Electronics

Hello again! You may have read my other blog posts for beginners on stuff like this as well, and I will soon be taking all my blog posts for beginners and compressing them into a super guide! Other than that, let us begin! So, you just got the newest phone, and as an astronomer/astrophotographer/stargazer/sketch artist, want to have an app that shows you what's up that night. But the problem is that there is thousands of apps that show you everything in the night sky. Here are my top ten picks in order, and than after that some honorable mentions: 1. Celestron SkyPortal-ease of use, hooks up to Celestron Telescope 2. Star Walk- ease of use, makes life very easy for me 3. Star Rover- Great app, well made, and has great interface options 4. Star Tracker Lite- Free, large pictures and fun to look at 5. Skyview Free- Fun app, very informative, but apps are annoying 6. StarMap 3d-Great if you have kids, but also shows satellites and the ISS 7. Skyview Satellite Guide- Best app for finding satellites 8. Star Chart- Very good for bad eyes 9. Star and Planet Finder- Good for bad eyes as well, also good for finding planets 10. Sky map- Very good for smaller stars Honorable Mentions All Nasa apps Stellarium SkyX First Light Edition   Thanks for reading and recommend this to others! Happy stargazing,   MountainSkies    

MountainSkies

MountainSkies

 

The Ultimate Guide For beginners to stargazing

Hello! Welcome to the most intuitive guide on beginner astronomy  ever! First of all, if you are even the greatest astronomer ever, please show this to beginner astronomers as this may help them get a good start. I will also post in the description a video explaining everything I just said a bit easier. Other than that,  enjoy!   Getting Started Welcome to the great hobby of astronomy! First off, I would like to say three things about your new hobby! 1st: Don't expect what you see in pictures! This is a picture taken by NASA using the Hubble telescope of the Orion Nebula:     Credit: NASA And here is a photo that you will see through your telescope:   It is way down in the lower-center part of the image. My point basically is that you aren't going to see those big beautiful pictures you see on NASA's website. So now search your brain, and think if this is what you want to do. If you aren't as interested, still stay, as you may not have to lose hope yet! 2nd: Think if you are ready The biggest problem you hear in astronomy is that someone got a big 1000 dollar telescope and hated it and stuck it back in his/her closet. So this is probably the most important step. You will be donating a lot to this new hobby, and the time, money, and regret can cost you if you are not careful. I will get into this more in the choosing your first telescope section of this post.  3rd: Calm down, and remember... Do not buy a telescope and fancy camera just so you can take pictures! I hear about this, and always think to myself that these people are losing all the fun that you have while stargazing because they're just trying to take the perfect shot! calm down, as you can get into astrophotography later if you like it.   Now to the main part of beginner astronomy...   Buying Your First Telescope   This is something that worries a lot of people. They always think that if they don't get the best they will die.(I did this as well, but calmed down and got a cheaper telescope. It worked for me until I felt it was time to level up) But to tell you the truth, if you don't dig astronomy, then you will only have spent 800-1000 dollars of well-spent money on nothing.  I included some great choices for beginners on which telescope to get: (I am assuming a price range of about 200 dollars) Astromaster 70AZ Telescope- $149.95 Travelscope 70mm Portable Telescope-$ 89.95 The Celestron Cometron series-$59.95 to $179.95 60LCM Computerized Telescope-$259.95 (Note: I am not a representative of Celestron, but rather find Celestron a good start-off point for newbies) Now many people want to get a computerized scope, and I find those scopes great AS long as the are not EQ mounts, our equatorial mounts, as these are harder to deal with. I would also not recommend Reflector Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. I would also not recommend Cassegrain Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. Trust me. you will only need two eyepieces, which come with all these telescopes First Observation Night Yay! First observation night has arrived! here are my tips: --since you may not know enough about the constellations, make sure you have something to see what is out with. Celestron's SkyPortal app for Ipad and Iphone is a great place to start, as it is easy to use and free. --Be prepared for average views depending on air pressure, and always be ready for light pollution if you live in a large city. --Note: Always find a spot without streetlights or trees to use, though rooftops are also good if you live in and apartment building --Carefully maneuver the telescope --Never get angry, as this could cause chaos and ruin your experience --As always, have FUN!!! Final Note Have fun with your newfound skills, and recommend this forum to others! Please leave comments about questions! happy stargazing, MountainSkies

MountainSkies

MountainSkies

 

Success at last!!!

Hi, Ok, so its been the worst January for Clear Sky that I can remember. But there's still some results!!! My tracking limits me to frames of around 1minute, but at 200mm, f/5.6, that's not too bad. I'll probably do some drift-alignment later this month, as I never really had much opportunity in December. The images can probably have a bit more processing done on them, especially M42, but otherwise, I think that I've more than fulfilled my dreams!!!   I think my favourite bit about it is that I've been using 'sub-minimal' equipment. My copy of 'Making Every Photon Count' declares that an EQ3 is the absolute minimum needed for DSO imaging. My mount is an EQ2, and my camera/lens setup cost only £200. So, anyone reading this, GO AHEAD!!! even if your equipment is basic, like mine, there's masses you can do!!! John   M31, Andromeda Galaxy M45, Pleiades M42, Orion (Great) Nebula and the Running Man Nebula

JohnSadlerAstro

JohnSadlerAstro

 

"I must be getting old"!

Late on February 10th and in the early hours vof the 11th, I tried out my newly purchased QHY5-11 camera.  Whilst awaiting the appearance of Jupiter over the hedge, I had my first go at 'guiding' using ther QHY5-11 as a guide camera and my Canon DSLR as an imaging camera.  All went surprisingly smoothly. Orion was loitering in the south-east and although the light pollution was not good ,  I targetted  Alnitak and all the usuaL culprits.  I chose a guide star, locked on and started a series of 3 minute exposures.  One was ruined by a passing satellite but after excluding this one, I managed thirty minutes  worth of photons without mishap.  Oh how my cup floweth over!  Then disaster, the guide star broke up before my very eyes and everything went 'pixels- up' on my clockwork laptop.  Trying not to panic, I saught reassurance by telling myself that the camera driver was probably playing up.  So I followed the set course used by computer experts worldwide. I turned everything off. Then turned it all back on.  As the camera booted up, I scanned the computer screen for stars. Completely black!!!!!!!  At this point I imagined the next morning's conversation with my long suffering wife.  " You only purchased the camera yesterday and you broke it on the same day"!  "What are you like @*$££££"? Then it dawned on me, the earth had been spinning and both Barnard 33 and my selected guide star had disappeared below the ridge tiles on the kitchen extension to our house.  No wonder PHD Guiding had struggled!  What a turnip?   I have to say this act of genius was not a one off. The week before I had stayed up to four in the morning taking video clips of Jupiter using my old QHY5v planetary camera. The following day whilst eating my breakfast I realised that I had forgotten to use the infra-red filter.  So if anyone wants several gigabytes of blurry videos of Jupiter, apply immediately to avoid disaapointment. I must be getting old! Anyway, the image of Alnitak, the Flame and Horsehead nebulae turned out better than I thought and I did get some useable AVIs of Jupiter.  The seeing was a bit poor so the Jupiter images are not that sharp, but all in all  I'm quite pleased with the QHY5-11.  I believe QHY are bringing out a new camera this year to replace the QHY5-11 so I purchased it at a very good knock-down price from Modern Astronomy.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Progressing onwards and upwards !

Been busy working on the mechanical side in preparation for its mot and road trip to have the self leveling system fitted , probably in the first week or two of February, a round trip of around 300 miles which should be enough to blow away the cobwebs! As far as mechanical work goes its looking pretty easy thus far, with just a few minor things needing done. Will be replacing the rear discs and pads at the weekend and perhaps skim the fronts I'll see how they perform on a brake test. Also been busy removing the unnecessary oxygen piping and valves, brackets etc and making some headway inside the "observation area", that sounds good doesn't it !   Also been busy removing all the Emergency Ambulance stickers and logos, nasty stuff the damn adhesive... and the disconnecting the blues and twos as well incase temptation gets in the way.   Had a sparky check out some visible wiring and the mains sockets which don't appear to be working, im hoping the auxilliary batteries are just needing charged up as the invertor unit lights up but not got any output.....   No pics on this update bit will take some for next time round.   Thanks for looking and taking an interest.

ASTROSTUART

ASTROSTUART

 

Imaging from home - finally

After what feels like decades of cloud cover, last night the gods finally forgave me for whatever it was I did to displease them and I had a clear night! I decided to concentrate this rare opportunity on gathering some photons on Comet Catalina. I managed to get 17 x 120 sec guided subs at ISO 1600 (+ flats and darks) with my Canon 1100D shooting through my Orion 80ED.   The forecast for tonight looks good again. I think I'll take the opportunity to finally getting around to playing with Plate solving with APT 3.0
http://www.ideiki.com/astro/Default.aspx
.

michaelmorris

michaelmorris

 

Puss in Bootes

The early hours of the 8th of January were not for the faint hearted. Although the ambient temperature was well above freezing the wind chill here on the UK east coast was significant. After a couple of hours outside I needed a hot cup of industrial strength Marmite to thaw out my inner self. On a positive note the sky was clear of cloud and significant moonlight. I thus set foot to first view Comet Catalina through my big bins and then photograph it.   The comet was far too low in the north east for me to use my big refractor- so bins it was. I store my dustbins in a fenced enclosure on the north side of our house, sounds grand but isn't, and so balancing my bins on the bin enclosure fence I discovered that the comet had conveniently raised itself above Arcturus such that said balanced bins pointed straight at the comet. In the past I have not found comets to be so accommodating.   I must say with the street lights off after midnight, my 80x11 bins did a good job of showing the comet albeit quite a small image. With averted vision I could clearly see the spread of light between the two tails. Nice!   I then spent an hour and a bit with fixed tripod, Canon 600D DSLR and EOS 18-55mm lens, snapping away like a good-un! Twenty or so RAW images later, raw- well the wind was, I returned to the warmth of our house. Today I have done what my partner, Toot, describes as 'cheating' using a number of software programmes to collate and enhance my snaps. I have attached the resultant annotated image for your inspection!   The reasons why I like comets a lot!   They are truly exotic denizens of the deep.
Their astronomical configuration, position and luminosity are constantly changing in real time.
They are often hard to locate, they disappear and sometimes reappear.
They are very old but have the appearance of youth.
Their performance is unpredictable.
They are sometimes spectacular and always exquisite.
They travel alone.
They are evaporated and reinvigorated by sunlight.
They are driven and destroyed by gravity.
They might have created all life on earth and may one day end it.  

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

TwinStar Wins

Thanks for the all the info guys. Santa dropped a late gift of a Nex Image 5,so the game plan as changed.
One arm never was good for astro-photography, and the reviews for the NexStar are bad. But when I was in Florida,
I went on a Sky-Safari sponsored MOSI, a guy had a 6inch NexStar with a 3mp camera.The pictures of Saturn was good,
not great. So I am going with the TwinStar because it has a equatorial mount. Basically I need practice with the
softwear and camera. I will spend the money I saved and buy a wedge for my Meade.   Thanks

Rastaman88

Rastaman88

 

It's Come!!!

My 1000d and 55-200mm lens came through the post last week--I tested it, and everything's working great! I put my own touch on the day's work by forgetting to remove my (only) SD card from the cam when I packaged it up again for Xmas. It wasn't until I had finished a very thorough sticky tape job on the box that I remembered... :BangHead: :grin: :grin: :grin:   John

JohnSadlerAstro

JohnSadlerAstro

 

Pantomime Season

Toot an I have just returned from a short tour of Turkey. Part of the itinerary involved very early pre-dawn starts. Looking out from our hotel balcony on the 4th. December at approximately 04.20 I saw what I thought was a comet . Oh no it wasn't, oh yes it was! At first I thought it was a first glimpse of Comet Catalina. It was approximately south east and close to the horizon. The twin tails appeared to be as they should be pointing away from the sun. But then I returned home to Suffolk and viewed Catalina through my big bins. My comet was much too bright and much lower in the sky than Catalina. So either we spotted a new comet or more likely the con-trail from a twin engined jet flying away from us at an acute angle. Oh no it wasn't, oh yes it was, oh no it wasn't   Anyway I managed to photograph what ever it was with my Canon compact camera. You can make your own minds up!  

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Observation hatch woes

After finding the ideal solution to an observation hatch, the idea of having a large sliding roof system seemed very appealing and ticked all the boxes it was supplied basically ready to fit and could be powered by 12 volts so a push button to open and close sounded very posh. (See American Military unit at 1.38s)     The quotation arrived and I nearly fell off my stool!,, £3500 for manual and £5500 for an electrically operated one, all plus VODKA AND TONIC aka VAT. So that's scuppered the plan of a ready to fit unit. I'm now planning on using my fabrication and technical skill to make the hatch myself. so off to the drawing board to plan the process. I'm thinking of having a stainless steel hatch made to plan at a sheet metal works who specialise in stainless steel fabrications, this would be a piece of cake to them. I also need to source heavy guage telescopic runners to allow the slide action, the motorised part may have to wait while i think of a way to do it without breaking the bank.

ASTROSTUART

ASTROSTUART

 

how to use c10 ngt

hi im looking for some help if anybody can help ive recently bought a 2nd hand c10 ngt celestron scope 2nd hand for myself and my daughter for xmas and we are looking for a bit of help setting it eq 5 mount up i have the latitude for dublin 53 but im not sure what the other ring dial on the eq5 mount is for could you help me get it set up for xmas night thank you john o donnell and isabelle thanks i know that it has to be pointing north at the polar star for aligment i had a small scope before but the c 10 is more advanced for us we got it a the wright price so we bought it any help would be much appericated thank you

johnisabelle

johnisabelle

 

More Jupiter Imaging

I got up at some unspeakable hour this morning, and found that the sky was not only clear, as had been forecast, but also that the seeing was very good! I had some trouble focusing, but I think most of the images turned out ok. I'm processing at the moment, images to follow! The bahtinov mask that I made seems to work, but it sometimes cuts of a bit too much light to see the 'spikes' clearly. However, one function I did find useful was AmCap's zoom tool, as I could focus and watch for the colour bands to get the sharpest. The only problem is, he zoom only works while imaging in VGA, not any higher resolutions, so its horribly grainy!   John

JohnSadlerAstro

JohnSadlerAstro

 

Imaging news

Imaging has always ben a big part of astronomy for me, and part of my imaging dreams were fulfilled last July when I was given an Orion Star Shoot Solar System Colour Imager 4. With this I have taken lots of acceptable pics, however, I want to image DSOs as well. This Christmas, I'm asking for a Canon EOS400d and 55-200mm lens for deep-sky. I'm hoping to post some of my images after then.   I managed to get out and image Jupiter on Wednesday:  


JohnSadlerAstro

JohnSadlerAstro

 

Piston broke...... or rather I will be shortly !!

Well a productive week and weekend, new piston arrived and was fitted and then the engine refitted on Saturday afternoon / evening. A transmission fault, being stuck in reverse gear ( automatic gearbox) meant i couldnt start. So Monday morning the diagnostics was connected and the gearbox error sorted out, much to my relief the engine has started as run up to temperature and all ok.   I contacted the supplier and manufacturer of the self levelling system EP hydraulics and i now need copious quantities of single malt after they told me the price to supply and fit. hmmmmmmmmmm will need a serious rethink or a donor vehicle.. unabated I continue, next will be the aircon repairs which were damaged when the van was originally recovered.

ASTROSTUART

ASTROSTUART

 

EQ3 mount not as bad as is claimed?

Last night I took 35 80 second subs using my camera with a 400mm tele lens mounted next to a 70 x700mm scope on my EQ3 mount on an EQ5 tripod. Quick and dirty aligned using the polar scope, no drift align.   Over 1 hour 7 minutes, the images offset by a total of 32 pixels vertical, 8 pixels horizontal, but almost all the horizontal drift was on the first two images (presumably taking up the backlash). So the real drift was about 32 pixels or 1 pixel every 2 minutes.   Looking at the subs I thought I could spot a few where there was more noticeable movement between subs - then I checked and these 'jumps' were where I had dropped subs because of aeroplane trails, causing nearer to a 2-pixel jump instead of one. There didn't seem to be any of the jumps I would have expected if there was significant periodic error in the worm wheel.   What was most striking is that every single sub showed nice round stars - as would be expected if the camera had strayed less than 0.5 pixels either side of the mean position.   I won't pretend that these results are good enough for long subs, but they do show that an EQ3 mount properly balanced and aligned with a bit of care on a solid tripod is capable of long enough exposures for imaging DSOs.   It also suggests to me that it will be worth me upgrading to autoguiding before upgrading my mount - which is against conventional wisdom. It also lends support to my suspicion that the weakness in the normal EQ3 setup is the aluminium tripod not the mount.   Something I want to try is taking long, unguided, wide field exposures. With a 28mm lens the tracking errors should be under a pixel even at 10 minutes exposure. This should be also be a way to see if there is significant periodic error.

Stub Mandrel

Stub Mandrel

 

Components, Progress and Plans

Concurrently with the dome assembly, I am cobbling together the potential contents.   Initially, I intend to install my HEQ5+250mm f/4.8 Newtonian on a tripod.   Have tested mount operations successfully indoors with indilib on a RaspberryPi, remotely connected to KStars.   I think indilib (http://www.indilib.org) is brilliant from many points of view.   Also working remotely with RPi/indlib are: Xagyl filter wheel, Atik CCDs (314E, 460EX), DIY focuser drive, GPS module (USB connected).

The electric focuser drive uses one of those ubiquitous steppers, controlled by an Arduino nano. This is bolted and belt-connected to a Crayford focuser.
Works well but is an ugly piece of engineering :embarassed: . Think I'll try to make a better package.
 
All of that is ready to go if I can just get the dome installed without neglecting too much the remaining work on the house :grin: .
 
I also have some morale-raising works-in-progress: Have bread-boarded an indiduini meteostation; and am really pleased with the result. I have now to design a robust and rainproof container Have ordered the bits for an all-sky camera (RPi NOIR); following the helpful examples set by several SGL members. Have designed and prototyped automation for the dome. This integrates with KStars/INDI and comprises separate Arduino processors with DC motors for dome rotation and shutter control. The shutter-controller is wirelessly (RF24) linked to the indilib, dome driver. Pleasingly it all works on a test-bed. The challenge I now face is to mount it robustly and (fingers-crossed) aesthetically in the (as yet not assembled) dome. I feel I will be paying for the sheet-metal work. :rolleyes: Have designed a pier for my EQ8 mount. Again, to resist corrosion, this has to be of marine-grade (316) stainless-steel. While I intend to weld the thing together I feel it wise to have the bits laser-cut. I am however unsure about where I can get the material.

This forum, in particular, has given me the inspiration and the nerve to attempt this project. I admire what people have done and am very grateful that they are willing, so generously, to share their experiences.

Dwarf Nova

Dwarf Nova

 

A start

With the platform down, I have been contemplating how to assemble the dome (Pulsar Observatories 2.2m), making sure that it is secured always against the wind; which can gust here at ~100mph.   I have designed a stainless-steel bracket, several copies of which are to be bolted to the cupola. This will allow me to anchor the cupola to the concrete platform. I have bought marine-grade, stainless eye-bolts for this purpose.   So I can source my brackets could some kind person please recommend a supplier of small metal orders who preferably will also laser-cut?

Dwarf Nova

Dwarf Nova

 

Acoustic Simultaneity

According to relativistic mechanics, two events occur simultaneously if the light from each of these two spatially separated events meet at the midpoint of the line adjoining them, at the same time. Additionally if this simultaneity occurs in a reference frame that is considered to be stationary, then the events will not be generally regarded as simultaneous in a reference frame that is moving with a linear constant velocity v relative to the stationary frame. This may be true for light waves, but it will not be true for sound waves, which rely for their propagation on a medium that passes easily through the porous conceptual walls of every inertial reference frame. The open still air will not be contained within the walls of both reference frames, in that the air molecules will be at rest according to the viewpoint of one reference frame, but at the same time in motion according to the viewpoint of the other reference frame. This disengagement of the air molecules from the motion of any moving material object within a reference frame is the primary underlying proposition of this paper.   A thought experiment oft used to explicate simultaneity involves an archetypical Einstein train of length L travelling down a long level straight stretch of track, on a windless night, at the constant velocity, v. The air/medium is at rest relative to the earth and track. An observer, holding two mechanically identical clocks, is seated on the roof of the train at the midpoint between the engine and the caboose. She is at rest in the train reference frame, but she feels the still air rushing past her face at the apparent velocity of w (v = w). A storm threatens, and a number of lightning bolts have struck the ground around the rapidly moving train. She prepares herself.   The engine and caboose are at the endpoints of the train, and they along with the midway point on the line joining them, have formed a tandem moving through space such that they maintain their distances of separation, whether the train is in motion or at rest. After a few moments, two lightning bolts strike, one bolt at the engine end of the train, and the other bolt at the caboose end of the train. These two events occur simultaneously, so that the light generated by the strikes against the metal, at each end, should arrive at the midpoint observer at the same time, in the train reference frame, as is supposed by the Special Theory of Relativity. However, the sound wave that is generated by the lightning strike against the metal at each end of the train will not arrive at the midpoint observer at the same time due to the motion of the train reference frame through the still air. Or conversely, so as to preserve mechanical symmetry for the train observer, an apparent wind must blow through the stationary train reference frame which causes the two travelling sound waves to arrive at the central location at different times. So, the train observer determines to use these light signal to mark the departure events of the two sound waves within the train reference frame. The light wave reaches her nearly instantaneously at this short distance, so she uses these flashes as the signals to start each of the clocks she holds so that they will now tick synchronously.   Disregarding observer reaction times, the ticking clocks will essentially measure the time intervals tx for each sound wave to reach the central point as the train is in motion. The sound waves travel at the same constant velocity c through the still air towards the middle location, but the moving train will shorten the distance of travel for the sound wave coming from the engine; and lengthen the distance of travel for the sound wave coming from the caboose. Thus, the two time intervals will not be equal, the arrival events of the two sound waves at her ears will occur at different times and positions within the train reference frame. So, taking this into account, and that time equals distance divided by velocity, with the distance value from the endpoints to the midpoint mathematically being 0.5L:   ♦t1 = [0.5L – vt1] / c = 0.5L / (c + v)
♦t2 = [0.5L + vt2] / c = 0.5L / (c – v)   Since t1 ≠ t2, adding these two times gives,   ♦T = t1 + t2 = 2[0.5Lc] / (c2 – v2)   If the train were to be regarded as stationary while the earth and atmosphere are moving past it at the velocity w so that the air/medium remains at rest relative to the earth, then to maintain symmetry, an apparent wind must be summoned which will blow through the resting train reference frame. This will cause the velocity of one sound wave to be decreased, and the velocity of the other sound wave to be increased:   ♦T = t3 + t4 = [0.5 L / (c + w)] + [0.5 L / (c – w)] = 2[0.5Lc] / (c2 – w2) where t3 ≠ t4.   To restate this, each sound wave will travel the same distance from an endpoint to the midpoint. However, the apparent wind will have a velocity w equal to the train’s velocity v which will slow down the sound wave coming from one direction and speed up the sound wave coming from the opposite direction, thusly the sound waves will not arrive at the midpoint between their departure points at the same time. Since w = v, the result will be equivalent to considering the train to be in motion through the still air.   Both these sets of equations resemble the total time formula from the Michelson-Morley experiment to detect the aether wind. However, neither equation takes the form of the total time that would be measured if the train, air, and earth were all at rest relative to one another:   ♦T = t5 + t6 = 0.5L / c + 0.5L / c = 2[0.5L] / c where t5 = t6.   Thus, adding these two measured time intervals, and then algebraically solving for v, the observer in the train reference frame should be able to find the train's velocity relative to the earth. This value of v represents the direction and magnitude of the train’s velocity since the train should be moving in the direction of the time interval with the lower value. Additionally, this velocity value should be equal to the value found by the classical method of measuring the duration of time to travel between two landmarks, of a known distance apart. But this new method, with slight alteration, can apply the Doppler Effect to the problem of the relative motion of material objects. The Doppler frequency shift formula gives differing values depending on the whether the source is moving towards the receiver, or the receiver is moving towards the source. This experiment can thusly be used to distinguish whether the earth and air is moving relative to a stationary train, or to preserve mechanical symmetry, the train is moving relative to a stationary earth and atmosphere. By this experiment, the use of sound waves will allow an observer within the train reference frame to find the velocity of the train reference frame, in contradiction to the classical principle of relativity. All the results of this thought experiment are based only on information available from within the train reference frame, without needing to utilize the Galilean or Lorentz transformation equations between reference frames. The sound wave can discern relative motion between two reference frames, while the light wave cannot.

Geryllax Vu

Geryllax Vu

 

Les Granges

Toot and I had a wonderful week with Olly and Monique in the Haute Alpes. We enjoyed the magnificent dark skies, the stunning Milky Way, looking through Olly's big Dob and drawing and painting with Monique.   We saw for the first time: The Crab Nebula, The Swan Nebula, The Eagle Nebula and all of the Veil Nebula. The Witches Broom was fantastic and through a wideangle eyepiece and Olly's monster of a Dob it appeared almost 3D. We also looked at the Lagoon and Triffid Nebulae before they dropped below the horizon. From our backyard and through my 127mm. refractor, we quite often look at M13 but such views were no preparation for the visual trreat we had through the big Dob at Les Granges. Blew our socks off!   The skies were really dark and each clear night, I treated myself to a couple of hours taking unguided photos with my Canon 400d DSLR mounted on a travel tripod. I have attached a selection of images from our week.   During the day Olly helped me improve my very basic astro imaging digital skills. The man has considerable patience! He also took me through an imaging run using side by side mounted refractors to capture several hours worth of colour and luminance data of M33. Whats more I got to take home the data to practice my new learnt skills. At some stage my version of the M33 data will appear in my gallery.   We really enjoyed our stay at Les Granges, Olly and Monique are very nice people and excellent hosts. I cannot think of a better place to enjoy and image the night sky. During the day and if you can pull yourself away from the laptop, the landscape is spectacular, there are plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling, climbing, birding, photography, painting and even collecting fossils. A great place for both strenuous activiy and rest.   Thanks Olly and Monique  

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

The Engine issue

24/10/15   Well today I removed the engine to strip and find the cause of the misfire and excess backpressure. Once the cylinder head was removed the cause was obvious, a holed and cracked piston on cylinder 4 and luckily no other damage to the cylinder, This should be a straight forward repair for me to do. As a precautionary measure I will have the diesel injectors checked and also check so se if there is a cooling oil jet when I remove the sump and piston.    

ASTROSTUART

ASTROSTUART

 

Mobile Observatory Project

Day 1 12/10/2015 Well Ive decided to build a mobile Observatory to allow easy movement and hopefully set up on sites quicker.This Blog will record the process in the various stages of the build conversion project.   Donor vehicle is A 2004 Mercedes Benz frontline Ambulance with 200k on the clock. The engine is misfiring and preliminary checks would indicate piston trouble, as the engine is misfiring / lumpy and has excess back pressure at the oil filler cap.   First job is to remove the engine from the vehicle as sump access is not good, I will likely need to drop the sump . Hopefully there will not be any major damage to the engine bores as that will mean a replacement engine.   The conversion will take approx 6 stages to completion and a build time due to costs of around 10 months.   1/ Repair Engine unit. 2/ Install additional imobiliser,security lock upgrades and tracker system. 3/ Fit large sliding roof 4/ Fit an elevating Pier 5/ Fit a self leveling system to enable stability on site 6/ Re Enable Power supplies and safety check on electrics  

ASTROSTUART

ASTROSTUART

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