Saturday, February 28, 2015

tried at home

We tried again to stack frames from the 24 Jan run. Wasn't happy with the results from the afternoon. So, now at home, tried AutoStakkert again. Then Registax. This time I tried following the steps in the tutorial on the Awesome Astronomy web page, in particular, using these Registax wavelet settings. In general, I had not gone above 0.100 on the sharpen options. In fact, I forgot you could.

Mimicked the main settings.
  • Automatic: on
  • Hold Wavelet Setting: on
  • Initial Layer: 1
  • Step Increment: 0
  • Wavelet filter: Gaussian
  • Use Linked Wavelets: off
Then tuned for my eye (layer. preview, denoise, sharpen).
  1. 48.4, 0.20, 0.120
  2. 51.5, 0.10, 0.120
  3. 69.3, 0.10, 0.120
  4. 36.8, 0.00, 0.110
  5. 15.3, 0.05, 0.110
  6. 92.0, 0.05, 0.110
Ended up with this.

Huh. How about that.

roof trouble

The GBO roof broke. Ralph reported that the motor quit. Had to hand-crank it closed.

loaned binoviewer

Loaned Mr dos Santos my binoviewer and 20mm eyepieces. He was very keen to observe with both eyes.

enjoyed the dark side

Asked Tony if we could drop into the LCBO at Southdown and Royal Windsor. Sure.

Found what I wanted in the Vintages section. Only two bottles out... Lucky.

Dark Side of the Moon by Claymore Wines, from the Clare Valley, Australia.

We cracked it open at dinner. A stunning Shiraz, heady bouquet, full bodied taste, intense, thick deep long flavours. My cup of tea.

And done way too fast.

Tony liked it.


Tried a new brew. Hornbeer's The Fundamental Blackhorn. An imperial stout from Denmark.

It's got a Moon on the label.

read Pellier's guide

Read Christophe Pellier's 16-page (PDF) guide on getting successful planetary images from his Planetary Astronomy blog.

A good primer. I was hoping for more detail; it's very high level. Good for people just starting out. 10 steps, including gauging the seeing, collimating, etc. Written clearly. Lots of links back into his blog.

I continue on my mission to find good instructions on using stacking and wavelet tools...

readied for more processing

Prepared for the meet-up today with the dos Santos.

Downloaded AutoStakkert! version Requested to join the AS Yahoo!Group. Learned that AS does not offer wavelet control. Oh. Downloaded WinJUPOS. To help with derotation. Requested Pellier's small e-booklet on successfully capturing planetary images. Copied these items to my external hard disk. Read a bunch of articles on stacking and wavelets. Re-read Medhi's blog post.

Starting forming a plan. I would try stacking the video frames from 24 Jan in AutoStakkert to see if we could get a better result. I'd try to apply derotation to the images. Guess we'd continue to use Registax for wavelets...

Friday, February 27, 2015

lived long and prospered

Leonard Nimoy died today. Very sad.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

liked my Jupiter events slides

Denis thanked me for the Jupiter-moons lesson. Said he learned a couple of things. That's kinda cool!

no X (Toronto)

Took at peek at the Moon through the small refractor in the OSC parking lot. I did not see Lunar X.

delivered TSTM

Delivered my The Sky This Month presentation at the Ontario Science Centre for RASC members. For the balance of February and most of March 2015. Provided a photocopy of my special calendar. 100 copies made.

Photo by my buddy Nicole.

Highlights include:

25 - Lunar X
28 - Handle on Moon
    - lambda Gem occultation
13 - Moon, Saturn, Antares (am)
20 - new Moon
    - very young Moon?
    - start marathon?
    - zodiacal light and Gegenschein
21 - Moon near Venus
22 - day-time Venus
24 - Moon in Hyades

and Jupiter "events" galore!


Posted the calendar, notes, infographics, and photographs on the RASC Toronto Centre web site.


Updated my archival presentation page over at the companion.

discussed Stellarium session

Sharmin and I discussed NOVA. I would be ready.

CEO of the OSC

Sharmin introduced me to Maurice Bitran, the chief executive officer of the Ontario Science Centre. He used to work in Chile. We only chatted briefly—he had to run—but I was impressed with the soft-spoken gentleman. A pleasure.


I wonder if he knew, at that point...

Monday, February 23, 2015

brief observing (Etobicoke)

Took me two blocks and Distant Suns (Lite) on iOS to find Mars, ½° to the bottom-right of Venus. Close!

Bright crescent Moon up high.

Jupiter over the roof of the house.

Cold. Very cold. Again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

corrected GRS in Stellarium 13.2

Chris asked me to look into the Great Red Spot positioning in Stellarium. He thought it off again. After a lot of fiddling in Windows 8.1 with Stellarium 0.13.2, I settled on a rot_rotation_offset of 90.


JUPOS showed the GRS around longitude 222 or 223°. I updated my SkyTools 3 Pro to 223. It showed the GRS transiting around 11:50 PM tonight.

Sky and Telescope's online calculator (in the interactive tools area) said the GRS would transit around 11:35 PM tonight. I wondered how current this data was.

I found Stellarium set to 310.

In version 0.12.4, I found I had to use the value 280... Weird.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

surprise cert

Opened the RASC envelope. Wha?!

A certificate of appreciation for my contribution to the Journal. From the president, James!

Wow. Thank you!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

solar alignment (Etobicoke)

From the bus window, I saw the Sun was lined up down the streets. Celestial alignment for us, west of the Humber river.

Monday, February 16, 2015

realigned the committees

The RASC Toronto Centre council rearranged the CAO and DDO committee structures to adhere to the bylaws. Some slightly incorrect terminology and roles had been used in the past.

he tested it

Heard from Tony. The power cord works! Yeah. So his small mount is back in business.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jupiter higher (Etobicoke)

Clear again. Very cold again... Oh, wait, it's later: Jupiter was straight up.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

two planets (Etobicoke)

It was clear and cold. I saw Venus and Jupiter. Opposite sides of the celestial sphere.

handed over the reins

Met with Mike. We went over in detail the transfer of the information technology portfolio.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

chopped and centred

Using the data collected on 24 Jan, I tried stacking and adjusting the wavelets.

8:08 PM. Test 1. Manually cropped.

Weird seams. I wondered if it was due to the significant drift. Something with the JPGs?

10:11 PM. Test 2. After centring and cropping with NINOX. After preparing BMP frames for NINOX!

Better, no seams! Ugh. But over-processed.

Test 3.

OK. Looked better.

more Registax info

Elaine and Tony referred me to the section Processing Your Webcam Images from the book Digital Astrophotography by Stefan Seip. Published by rocky nook. Registax tips. OK. Some reading to do...


Unfortunately, the book refers to an older version of Registax...

won't be easy

Tony was thinking about my remark, having never seen Amalthea‎.

He reread an article by Trees called Minor Moons. Terry states that after many attempts, he could not see it, even with his 17.5" in under dark skies. Then, coincidentally, Tony read the Ask Astro section in Astronomy magazine where a reader wondered, "Is Jupiter's moon Amalthea ever visible in amateur instruments?" Bakich (senior editor) replied. He recommended lots of aperture (minimum 24"), high power (minimum 250X), dark skies, and the moon has to be at elongation.

Now he was really anxious to get a dark filter. I suggested online...

finally, got files

Tried again with TeamViewer 9. Elaine made her machine the host. I jumped in, found the files, and transferred them over. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Now I have the three "bla30_2015-01-24-013838" series files, segments 0000, 0001, and 0002, as captured on 24 Jan. The first two are 2 GB each, the last was 122 MB. That represents the 1200 frames captured just before the triple transit was clouded out.

watched launch

Watched the SpaceX DSCOVR launch.

Well done.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

shared 12 volt presentation information

Wayne asked about powering gear in the field. Already planning for Starfest. I referred him to my "powering gear" presentation from Aug 2012. He found it useful.

Monday, February 09, 2015

could not transfer file

Tried to transfer the Jupiter AVI files. Large, at 2 GB, each. Elaine and I tried FileZilla Server 0.9.49. No joy. We tried TeamViewer 10. No joy. Damn it.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

fixed Rainmeter finally

Fixed Rainmeter for my gCal feed. Huh. It turned out to be an issue of case.

Changed the text string from "full" to "basic." No joy. Then to "Basic."


Saturday, February 07, 2015

tested small battery

Performed a "full" test of the NOCO genius BOOST GB30 li-ion battery. I wanted to see how it might hold up if used to fight off dew from a camera lens. Admittedly a usage different than what it is designed for.

I connected the Kendrick type IV dew removal controller to the jumper clamps, careful of the polarity. I connected a "classic" 2-inch dew strap. I turned on the controller at maximum power, full power. And verified the heater was hot to touch.

It ran for approximate 5 hours and 53 minutes. And that was not from a full charge... Not bad... not bad at all.

Friday, February 06, 2015

picked up stuff

Dropped by Katrina's to fetch some of my gear. Camera, netbook, USB cables (!). I was in no rush for the big sleds. Checked if they were in the way.

parts of occulting eyepiece

Tony shared that he has a 25mm Orthoscopic eyepiece which he would like to use to make an occulting filter eyepiece, for viewing/imaging minor moons. He just needed to get a violet filter and some epoxy. He wants to give it a shot. I'm game!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

wrapped up tracker

Did more work on the barn door tracker. Drive rod, finder scope, and camera ball head installed.

barn door tracker with finder installed

Ready to roll.

bits and bobs

Digi-Key order arrived. Joy! Red blinky 5mm diffused LEDs for a future DIY don't-kick-me tripod leg lights (as they flash on their own, wont need a complex circuit). A long CLA extension for the netbook, for lead-acid sources, etc (will be handy also in car trips). And the screw-on cable-assembly/panel mount for Tony's NEQ mount power-in repair...

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

attended council meeting

Participated in the council meeting. It was held at the DDO. Weather was bad with some snow. So Tony and I decided to teleconference in with Skype from his home. The audio was a little challenging at times. Hopefully we'll get a proper microphone soon.

received alarm

Tony reported that he received the Reliance freeze-water-outage device. All right.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

two steps forward

Mounted the finder scope. I really wanted it underneath. No room. No room on version 1 of the barn door tracker...

Tended to some loose ends from the other night. Wanted to tighten the grub on the motor gear. Removed the small bolts and promptly dropped one of the small spring washers. Gone! Damn it!

Then, I found the grub very tiny! Could it be half a mil? Crazy small. Could not properly tighten it.

Bolted everything back up.

Retrieved some Velcro bits from astronomy box gamma. Cut 2" pieces. The hook to the tripod centre pier; the loop to the back of the finished control box.


Weeks later, I found the washer!

Monday, February 02, 2015

happy day!

Wiarton Willie calls for an early spring. Apropos as Toronto got dumped on. Happy Groundhog Day!

found it on the Canadian site

Researched freeze-water-outage alarms again. Found the one we wanted on Amazon (Canada, yeh): the Reliance THP 201. It has 3 sensors. About $150. Let Tony know.

no accessories... yet

Heard back from NOCO. I had asked if longer accessory cables or extensions were available. Also, if the existing clamps are damaged or lost, where can one obtain a replacement. Sarah replied.
Right now we do not have any accessories or extra clamps available.  I know they are working on accessories for the GB30.  As far as the length of the clamps...  I don't think they will be changing [that].

Sunday, February 01, 2015

finished the tracker

Finished the barn door tracker. After a number of set-backs.

Ending up cutting the metal part out of the blind well nut. It fit tightly in the big gear. Damn. Locked it in place with the grub screw. Put a small metal washer underneath.

Attached the ball head with the recently acquired bolt.

Was ready for a test run. Connected the control panel. It worked!

Powered it off. Didn't shut off. Oh yeah, I was on the wrong (or a bad) post of the switch. No worries. I had to expand the screw holes. Grabbed a 5/32" bit. Moved a power connector to the other pole. Had to rotate the power switch to avoid interference. Screwed the cover on tightly. Tested the power switch. It worked!

Re-marked the big gear. Suddenly I couldn't remember the speed to calibrate it at. Checked the notes. Right. One RPM.

There are a few loose ends. I need to countersink a hole on the underside of the base for the curved rod to reduce binding. I need to tighten the grub screw on the motor gear. Find a couple of nylon washers for under the main gear. Oh yes, and mount the finder scope. I need to sand, treat/finish the wood. And get out the Velcro so to suspend the control box to the tripod.

And. Now. I need clear skies!

received Maker Faire

Katrina and I hosted the Toronto Maker Faire planning committee at the Carr Astronomical Observatory.

Too bad the weather didn't support astronomy. But it seemed like they enjoyed the locale.

checked a POD

Checked Phil's SkyShed POD for snow. Fair.