Wednesday, September 02, 2015

updated BDT to 2.0

Revised the barn door tracker. This is version 2.

Cut a new bottom plate. Simple rectangle. Same width as the existing top plate (6-1/2" but much longer (12").

The drill press made easy work of the through-the-plate passages and the various screw pilot holes. I made the critical measurement, as per Gary Seronik's instructions, for the bent rod: 6.9 inches plus the distance to the centre of the hinge (3/32): rounded to 7.0". And this time, I countersunk the opposite side to reduce binding.

I wanted the larger plate for a few reasons: to better protect the main gear; and to offer space for the finder scope. Even though the finder and bracket aren't that heavy, this design reduces the weight on the top plate. And helps avoid collisions with camera bodies or lenses.

Finally, with the table saw, I made a octagonal spacer with some of the scrap birch plywood. This is to elevate the ball head, which in turn will raise the camera body to, once again, avoid collisions between body and top plate, particularly when trying to aim straight up.

Of course, the whole thing is bigger and heavier now. No longer fits in the corrugated cardboard box I've been using. Oh well.

Ready for aligning the finder!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

red Moon rising (Blue Mountains)

Looked outside a few minutes ago. Few stars were showing. Mind you, I was not dark adapted. Still, few stars were showing below 45°. Hawkeye Ian could see some at 30°. Cygnus straight up. I looked left. Oh. A dark red Moon was rising over the east hill. Another tell of the smoke in the air...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

tracking software for N11

Popped into my head that maybe the NexStar 11 could be put into service for satellite tracking! I sent a query to John Eccles, developer of Satellite Tracker...

on meridian flips

I think I just figured out how I can avoid a meridian flip with an ISS flyover pass. I think it is simply math. It has to be in the north. More importantly, it cannot rise higher than one's latitude. For us, that's just under 45 degrees. I think when something is below the latitude value and in the north, then it makes the mount move mainly in Declination. My brain started to hurt as I tried to do that math.

I had wondered, briefly, at why I was encountering the meridian with the August 14 pass. On review, in various software apps, I saw the Station rose higher than 45. Actually, as soon as I looked at the chart from Heavens Above, I saw there was an issue. The path went through the Little Dipper, i.e. above Polaris. Stellarium was particularly useful.

Light bulb: I will need to pay more attention to the Highest point Altitude value in the flyover table! This one: 57°. That said, low in the north presents other problems: the roof gable; more air. Maybe I should use a fork mount...


Dark frames applied...

Better still.

made a large star trails version

Made a high-rez version of the star trails, after converting the RAW files to JPGs, straight, no size reduction! Unlike the small version... Way better. It's causing StarStaX to churn. S'OK. I got time.

View full screen. Enjoy.

Used StarStaX 0.07: lighten blending mode, comet mode off, cumulative image saving off. Oops. Forgot to remove the dark frames...

spotted a little galaxy

Just found a tiny edge-on galaxy MCG 11-18-17, aka PGC 53422, in my comet photo from mid-July. SkyTools says magnitude 15.30 B. Wow. It's the little smudge directly below RR UMi, about half the separation of the comet from the star. Zoom in!

Friday, August 28, 2015

tried comet mode

Upon Steve's suggestion, I tried comet mode in StarStaX. Neat! I like how the meteors persist.

Looking North Perseids Comet Mode from Lumpy Darkness on Vimeo.

Still using the small JPGs. For testing...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

gonna try PIPP

Wanted to have another go at the Saturn image stacking. Reviewed my notes from the Jupiter ttriple-shadow event. I had used Wesley's NINOX to pre-process. But the notes said it was for 64-bit Windows. Ah. That threw me. Re-read Ian W's message. Leclerc uses Garry's PIPP. I downloaded it.

tried dimmer

Reviewed the specifications of the dimmer units:
  • working temperature: -20 to 60°C
  • input supply voltage: 12 to 24 VDC
  • maximum load current: 8 amperes
Tested one of the four dimmer units. First with a super bright red LED and then with the 2-inch Kendrick dew heater wrap.

With the knob at OFF, it output 0 volts and 0 amps.

With the knob turned slightly, it output 12+ volts and low amps.

With the knob at maximum (over 270°), the amperage read as 0.27.

One will need to be careful with the polarity. Particularly the input...

Immediately I started to think of applications:
  • dedicated heater for finder scope
  • dedicated heater for camera lens
  • tripod lighting
Lots of ideas... And immediately I wondered what new parts I'll need. Do I have female RCA plugs for example?

made trails

Had a quick go with StarStaX 0.70. Used the JPGs made for the movie, which were all small, captured on evening of the 12th. Easy!

But, hey, I like it! My first successful long star trails shot.

Cool! Some of the meteors showed up too!

meteor season (Blue Mountains)

Ended up catching about 10 meteors in my long photo run on the evening of the 12th... All shot with a Canon 40D and Rokinon 8mm, f/5.6, 30 seconds each, ISO 1600, daylight, RAW, tripod-mounted, intervalometer. Slight processing in DPP. Taken on 13 Aug 2015. All times after midnight.

Image 5877. 12:28:57. Bottom right. Likely a Capricornid as it is going in to Perseus. In fact, this is a dual-photo event. See next...

Image 5878. 12:29:32. Bottom right. This is the end of the Capricornid meteor. And it is interesting to note there are dual trails!

Image 5952. 1:12:42. Top left. Perseid, faint, long.

Image 5984. 1:31:22. Centre. Perseid, bright.

Image 6069. 2:20:57. Bottom centre. Perseid, very faint.

Image 6081. 2:27:57. Bottom right. Another two-frame event. Perseid, bright, heading right, with a bright coma.

Image 6082. 2:28:32. Bottom right. The tail end of the two-frame event. Perseid.

Image 6106. 2:42:32. Left side. Perseid.

Image 6139. 3:01:46. Bottom left. Capricornid, super bright.

Image 6158.  3:12:51. Right of centre. Perseid, faint.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

council meeting after summer break

Attended the RASC Toronto Centre council meeting. Wow. Very intense. Lots to do.

Received a package from Tony. One of two.

Handed off the 8" Dob. Karen happily agreed to take it back to the DDO.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

happy anniversary Gaia

Stumbled across the article at the European Space Agency site on the one year anniversary of the Gaia probe. It was interesting to learn that it is working well. It has recorded:
  • 272 billion positional or astrometric measurements 
  • 54.4 billion brightness or photometric data points
  • 5.4 billion spectra
On its way to improving our stellar epoch data.

Monday, August 24, 2015

examined Rubylith

Mr Markov showed me a piece of red film. He assured me it was Rubylith. Immediately I noticed it was two layers (as per wikipedia's entry). I also saw that it was translucent: if not mounted flush to a screen, the image was soft. I suggested he test it on his smartphone; the capacitive touchscreen responded. He purchased it a long time ago at an art supply store. Too small, unfortunately, for this home computer displays in the observatory. He wants some of the Lee Filter 026 transparent film that I have.

Fanutti's photos

Steven shared photos from last weekend at the CAO.

He and his group left early in the morning...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

dogs spotted (Wasaga)

As I drove west, I noted the clouds. Thickening clouds. Which meant no astronomy. But when I shifted my view, I spotted, as I expected, a sun dog. A very bright surprising tall prismatic pillar left of the Sun.

soft sky (Killarney Provincial Park)

I really wanted to get some wide-field constellation shots from Killarney. I had been too tired the night before so tonight was possibly the last chance.

When Tony and I looked at the sky from the rocky look-out, we agreed it was soft. The transparency, to me, looked poor.

I wondered if it was to be expected, after spotting the deep red Sun earlier...


No shooting tonight...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

reddened Sun (Killarney Provincial Park)

I spotted a deep red Sun through the trees. Oh oh. That didn't look good. I posited the colour was due to forest fires somewhere...