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!


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!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Big Blue is home finally

Big Blue finally was dragged out of storage on the same wagon as the cement, pier and rocks dug out of the hole.  (It's a useful thing around here!).
The scope is about 80+ lbs but Traci and I together were able to get on each side of it and lift it up on the pier.  The height in relation to the dome opening turned out perfectly.  As expected (yes, even with the low Hobbit sized door) a raised floor or platform will be needed to reach the scope easily.  That's one of the next projects on the list.  
Scope is in new home

As planned, the height and the hole lined up just right

A floor platform will be needed

Danger - black hole where not even eyepieces can escape

Dangerous hole!
I realized once this was installed that I had a very dangerous situation that could result in a very difficult retrieval.  The hole at the top of the pier could easily attract and suck in telescope mounting nuts, eyepieces, evening observing snacks, cell phones...or anything that fits in an 8x8 inch opening!
Safely covered
Fixed that problem with some scrap and covered up that danger.  Later I did paint this black.

Test fitting the wedge