Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Finally! Observatory can probably be called "operational".

I recently got the observatory running on remote control through wireless connection to the home network.  Not that it was difficult, but just since I finally tried to open a port through Windows firewall to allow remote access since I was blocked from the network by all that protection. 
It's connected though an 802.11AC connection.  I forget the speeds off hand, but somewhere around 400+ Mbs when I have the antenna set right.  That's fast enough for a decent remote desktop connection.
Here is one of the first images taken totally on remote control.  It was about 29 degrees out that night and just miserable outside - but very clear.  I ran out and hooked up the camera, aligned, got calibrated the autoguiding, focused what I needed to focus, then ran back in the house.
It all worked very well!  I did have some minor dome/scope alignment issues, but I'll work on that.  
Here is the Horsehead and Flame nebulas in Orion.  7 images at around 5 minutes each, ISO 800 and a few at 1000, Canon 60DA with CLS filter, imaged through Orion 80ED, guided with Starshoot autoguider on a 50mm finder. 

A little snow, but cleared up nicely after this.
Success! Indoor control of the observatory.

Not a bad image of Horsehead.  Easy to see the darker skies here at Crest!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Remote Clear Skies


Something kind of fun that showed up in the club email account.  Of course we can't control the scope without a paid account, but we can see what some of the remote scopes are aimed at in live views. 
Get your fix under our cloudy Seattle skies!

 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Crappy or good...the Apollo photos.

I've been familiar with Kipp Teague's Project Apollo Archive for many years.  If you haven't seen that site and you are an Apollo enthusiast, you are missing out.  Check out that site!
I just saw that he has shared a huge "Saturn V" sized load of photos that was just published on Flickr the other day.  Very cool stuff! 
This is all the photos taken from the different Apollo missions, even the crappy, overexposed, glare filled, or just plane ugly selfies (before they were know as "selfies" back then). 
Grab a cuppa or snack of some type and check out the photos, you could get stuck for a while viewing these!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This week's Supermoon Lunar Eclipse.

Wow!  Sometimes our Seattle crud just forgets to squat over the Puget Sound area and ruin all the fun when something happens in the sky at night.  This week's lunar eclipse which lined up nicely with a "supermoon" was totally visible from here. 
I'll count this as the first eclipse from the new Crest Astroshack.  Here are some photos taken with the Orion 80ED scope and the Canon 60Da.  I pulled out my CLS light pollution filter for the event (I normally never take that out of the camera for deep sky stuff) since the moon IS light pollution anyway!

Just past totality

Earth's shadow uncovering the moon again.

The light is not from the moon, but annoying neighbor's annoying light trespass. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A few more recent test images from the Crest Astro-shack

Behind on the blog a usual, but here are a few more photos from the newly operational observatory.  I still have to try out some "serious" imaging with darks, flats, lots of stacked frames, and the required frustrated cussing! 
These are just some more quick test images to see how the autoguiding is working.  It's working fairly well, I still have some star elongation, but there are ways to "cheat" a little, when processing, but I really hate doing that!


M-16 Eagle.  Always a cool target!

Not a bad start at the Crescent Nebula.

Scale Model of Solar System

Of course they don't include Pluto, but this is a pretty cool short video about some guys that make a scale model of  the solar system.


 
 
| More about the project here |

Friday, August 21, 2015

First Stacking of DSO from Crest Astro-Shack

I guess I can call this the first "official" deep sky image from the new observatory since I did stack these with a dark filed.  Seven shots at ISO 1000, f/6.3 with Canon 60Da, CLS filter, Meade LX200 classic 12", StarShoot Autoguider on piggyback Orion 80ED Apo, and 5 minute exposures. 
Stacked with DeepSky Stacker and Gimp processing.  
Nothing special, I can complain about a lot of things in this image, but I have a lot to re-learn about this since I've been away for a couple years and forgot a lot!

M33 

Just some pretty photos

Just some pretty photos of the observatory during a recent colorful sunset, and in operation at night.
Sunset over Crest Airpark's only observatory

Nothing better than warm summer nights!

First light!

Not sure if the official "first light" should be something really pretty, stacked, processed, Photoshopped, then proudly displayed.  These are just some rough "test images" while I work out guiding issues.  I did take a series of M33 that are probably good enough to stack and tweak, but I'll get to that next.
Last night I was able to find comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy at 10.5 magnitude quite easily, so things are running well enough to find the dim fuzzies!

M33 at f/6.3 ISO100 5mins

M13 at f/6.3 ISO1000 2mins
Guiding problems, but the comet is in the middle

Latest Astro-shack update

Building the computer
Once again, it's been a long time since I added any updates to this page.  So here is the latest.   I got a new main computer for my home use, so my older Windows 7 machine was assigned to the duties of being the new observatory machine.  I did some drive swapping and put a solid state hard drive in there for fast boot (for when the thing crashes, I don't want to sit around waiting too long!).  Fortunately, the Microsoft anti-piracy check let me install it without a call to India for activation, since it was the same motherboard and just a new drive.  (Don't ask me my opinion on that crap!).
Corner operating desk
All the astro stuff has been installed and I built a little corner desk in the observatory to put the monitors and keyboards.  I still need to work out the optimal place for the computer since there are a lot of cables that run through the place to control the dome, scope and cameras. I started in the opposite corner, tripped over things a lot, then move it to a place next to the pier.  I'll probably build a raised floor with a computer space underneath for the next project.
So I guess it's operational now, and have just been doing tweaks on alignment and other things.  ASCOM drivers are finally working well, and the dome syncs up with the telescope! (Or getting close at least).
It's alive!
I recently found a good deal on a 50mm Williams Optics guide scope and camera, so I'm playing with that as a guider option.  Still seem to have some drift that I need to work out.  I think it's almost down to the PHD Guider software that I just need to get the right settings in. 
A few very rough samples of photos have been taken, mostly  just mess with autoguiding rather than anything pretty.  That will come soon I hope!


Nice Ebay find for $270!


The little white thing is the new guider.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Our new "Gemini" two seater.

As some of you know, Traci and I are building an airplane in our home hangar here at Crest Airpark.  Do we ever have enough projects around here to work on?  In addition to building the new Astro-shack, working on growing a home business, maintaining the yard, and managing a bunch of cats.
Our latest addition to the airport home is a 1973 Cessna 150L that we just picked up from Prosser last week.   The plane flies great, has a strong engine with fairly low time, and best of all will get us airborne and make us feel like we fit in with our other flying neighbors around here! 
It does need a little cosmetic work mainly replace cracked panels in the cockpit (very common with these vintage planes) and some other improvements.
Eventually, we may add commercial insurance so I can do a little flight training in it, but that's later on as we work out ideas and get a few projects done around here.

Jet thinking of the bird hunting possibilities with a C-150

Everything Gemini

Just a fun thing I stumbled across in the aimless internet wanderings.  Actually, this showed up on Facebook on one of the many space geek groups I'm in.  
Kind of a fun interactive page full of diagrams and stuff from the Gemini spacecraft.  If you look at the main pane images, click on some of the buttons and controls - a new page pops up with a short description of the control that you clicked on.  I think a lot of work has gone into this web page! 
There are a lot of diagrams that I haven't seen before. Fun stuff!