Thursday, 23 July 2020 15:35

Antares is a swollen red supergiant star located in Scorpius the Scorpion. As the brightest star in that constellation it is designated as Alpha Scorpii. It is the 15th brightest star visible from Earth. It's outer layers are so swollen it would extend out past the orbit of Mars if it was located where our Sun is at. It also has a companion star that is a blue-white main sequence star. It illuminates part of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. As with many stars with this size, it most likely will explode as a supernova in the future.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 16:22

Messier 4, a globular cluster located in Scorpius. It contains more than 20,000 stars, which is less that most globular clusters, but as it passes through the plane of the Milky Way, it may have shed stars with each passage. And at 7,200 light years away, it is one of the closer ones. As it lies near the bright star Antares, it is relatively easy to find in the sky. Antares itself is embedded in a nebula in which the outer parts can be seen in the lower left. M4 has a distinctive bar feature of stars across its middle. In 2003 a Jovian plus sized planet was discovered orbiting a binary star that consists of white dwarf and a neutron star outside of M4's core. The planet is thought to be 12.7 billion years old as the globular itself is thought to be over 12 billion years old.

Thursday, 02 July 2020 20:49

Messier 16 or as commonly call the Eagle Nebula, or Star Queen Nebula is an open cluster and nebula located in the constellation of Serpens. The central spires of dust and gas were made famous by the Hubble's "Pillars of Creation" image. The pillars and other regions of the nebula host new star formation. The central spire is some 9.5 light years in length. The age of the cluster is around 5 million years.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020 14:37

NGC 3079 is a barred spiral in Ursa Major, but for me the real "star" in this image is the Twin Quasar. Which is a single quasar that appears doubled by gravitational lensing by a foreground galaxy. It took the light 8.7 billion years to arrive here. The light from one component takes an additional 14 months to arrive having taken a longer path. This was the first observable object demonstrating the effects of gravitational lensing.

 

 

Tuesday, 23 June 2020 12:25

An open cluster located Scorpius. The name derives from Robert Burnham's description that it resembles an outline of a butterfly with open wings. The cluster is estimated to contain up to 300 members, and its age is 50 to 100 million years old. Like most open clusters, the stars will disperse over millions of years and become more background stars in Scorpius.

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 17:16

iTelescope.net is an web based network of remotely controlled telescopes currently based in four areas. The service has telescopes based in New Mexico, and California in the United States, in Spain, and in Australia. Using a web browser, one can control or upload a planned observation that can reserve telescope time and execute automatically at the appointed time. It describes itself as a Self-Funding Observatory with most of the profits invested back into upgrading their operation.

Friday, 01 July 2016 22:01

Here are a few of the images I've taken with the new camera and equipment. Still working out the bugs with the new equipment and camera.

First up is the Great Globular Cluster in the constellation of Hercules. Imaged under a full Moon, so not the best imaging conditions.

Friday, 03 June 2016 21:49

Just received a new camera, and no charge for the extended cloudiness that comes with any astronomical purchase. Received a just out ASI 1600MM-Cool camera. It is a 16 megapixel 4/3 CMOS sensor, that has a resolution of 4656 x 3520 pixels, and a pixel size of 3.8 nanometers. It also has a two stage TEC cooling system that can take the sensor down to 40C below the ambient temperature. It also has a very low read noise, which is good for deep sky, and with its relatively high frame rate it can also be used as a planetary camera. Looking forward to trying it out in both types of imaging.

 

 

Saturday, 23 April 2016 15:35

 After using the dome for several years, started thinking about the next observatory. Wanted the capability of using two scopes in those seeming rare clear moonless nights, and the ability to image without having to rotate the dome. At the time, automating my dome was looking rather difficult and expensive.

Settled on a roll off roof observatory, and after doing research, ordered plans for a SkyShed RoR. Picked the 10 foot by 10 foot one, based on my ability to haul the supplies, and most likely I would be building it by myself.

Thursday, 21 April 2016 14:44

 When you first start astrophotography, it quickly becomes apparent how much a convenience a permanent setup brings. First you have to bring out the tripod, the counterweights, and the scope. Then haul out the power, either battery(s) or A/C cord. Then a table for the computer, then the computer. Then all the cables to control the mount, the cameras. Then the mount has to be polar aligned with the axis of the earth so the mount can track objects better as they rotate through the sky. Of course, by then, clouds will appear out of no wheres.

So a high priority was to build a permanent setup for the scope and equipment. I decided to tackle building a dome, well because I think domes are cool. They also do a great job of blocking wind, reducing dew, and any stray light, which luckily I don't have much of a problem with.