My Astronomy

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My New Book May 2018My previous e-book
 

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My Telescopes

My Main Telescope - C14 and Paramount ME

My new Paramount MyT and 8-inch Ritchey-Chretien Telescope

MyT Hand Controller

My Meade 12 inch SCT on a CGEM (Classic) Mount

My 4 inch Meade Refractor with Sky Watcher Guidescope and ZWO camera on a CGEM (Classic) Mount

Skywatcher Star Adventurer Mount with Canon 40D

 

My Solar setup using a DSLR and Mylar Filter on my ETX90

DSLR attached to ETX90. LiveView image of 2015 partial eclipse on Canon 40D

Astronomy Blog Index
About the Site

 I try to log my observing and related activities in a regular blog - sometimes there will be a delay but I usually catch up. An index of all my blogs is on the main menu at the top of the page with daily, weekly or monthly views. My Twitter feed is below. I am also interested in photograping wildlife when I can and there is a menu option above to look at some of my images. I try to keep the news feeds from relevant astronomical sources up to date and you will need to scroll down to find these.

The Celestron 14 is mounted on a Paramount ME that I have been using for about 10 years now - you can see that it is mounted on a tripod so is a portable set up. I still manage to transport it on my own and set it all up even though I have just turned 70! It will run for hours centering galaxies in the 12 minute field even when tripod mounted.

 

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Wednesday
Nov142018

McNeil's Nebula Disappears

Where has it gone?

 

Friday
Oct262018

Back in Spain - PrimaLuce - Side by Side Mounting and thoughts on the pointing accuracy of the MYT.

I am back in Spain for a few weeks and reorganising my equipment in the observatory. The run off roof observatory I bought in Spain has proved to be excellent and has the advantage that it could be easily dismantled and relocated if I wished to do so as the roof and walls can be simply unscrewed. 

During my day on the stand for the Society for the History of Astronomy at the International Astronomy Show at Stoneleigh Park in Kenilworth near Coventry earlier this month I visited the stand of 365 Astronomy who are the main distributors for PrimaLuce Lab who are based in Northern Italy. I was interested in side by side telescope mounting for my 8-inch RC, my 80mm Skywatcher refractor with a ZWO Colour camera for guiding and planetary imaging , my modified Canon 40D attached to the OTA of my Meade ETX 90 and my un-modified Canon 40D with 50mm and 300mm Canon lenses - all to be mounted on my Paramount MyT. On the 365 stand I spoke to Filippo Bradaschia, the CEO of Primaluce who demonstrated their PLUS system Dovetail Bars and Clamps. I particularly liked the clamps that could take either Losmandy or Vixen Dovetails. to cut a long story short I flew back to Spain with a 49.5cm Primaluce Losmandy Bar, a large and a small clamp in my hand luggage. The large Losmandy Bar, fitting diagonally in my regulation size hand luggage caused some consternation at Manchester Airport Security. I could see no reason on the website security guidance not to take it but it took 3 people to finally agree to let me take it on board. A very difficult job for them. In future I will send any similar items by post. Primaluce has a number of  videos on their equipment presented by Filippo - this is the one about Dovetails and Clamps. Also this video. These are the items I bought.

Wednesday
Sep192018

This morning's imaging of Comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner

This morning I opened the observatory from my desk inside the house just before 6 a.m. Not having to go and set up the telescope and observatory makes it very easy to do some astronomy at unsocial hours. I usually wake up in the middle of the night to check the sky and if it is clear open the 'shed' and start up the telescope, set the filter wheel position, connect the camera and slew the telescope to an interesting target - all without having to move more than 3 feet from my bed!

This morning I captured the latest position of the comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner. I produced a gif animation in Photoshop to show its movement over 33 minutes.(05:57 local time to 06:30 local time.) There were intervening clouds from time to time resulting in various levels of star bloating!

 

Sunday
Sep022018

Day 7 of the new observatory

I have finally completed the roll off roof observatory, installed my telescope and camera and completed the wiring to inside the house. From my desk I can open and close the roof, watching it happen with the RING security camera in the observatory - and check the movement of the telescope. I can startup and home the scope and startup the camera, set the filter wheel position and switch a light on if necessary - all from my desk. I have not yet installed my focuser because I need an adaptor for my 8-inch RC. Of course since completion every day here s very warm and sunny with clear skies but s soon as it gets dark the clouds roll in!

Thursday
Aug022018

DAY 6 of the new observatory

I finally connected up the roof motor to test it - I still have to decide exactly where to control it from. At the moment I have located the control switch in the observatory. The roof opened and closed perfectly straight away after I set the upper and lower roof limits with adjusting screws on the motor.

 

Friday
Jul272018

Day 5 of the new observatory, Lunar Eclipse and Mars Opposition

The day started by getting the assistance I needed to get the roof on my new observatory. It took three of us to manhandle the three parts of the roof into the guiding slots. 

The observatory with its three roof sections in place.

The next stage is to add the motor and link the drive belt to the upper roof section.

 

The lunar eclipse seen from southern Spain was a stunning sight with a bright Mars just below it and to the west. This is the first time that , with the presence of a full Moon I could see the brilliance of the Miky Way. The Moon rose over the hills first and was hardly visible in its eclipsed state. 

The image below shows the Moon rising with Mars still behind the hills on the southern horizon.(iPhone)

 

 

The image below was taken with a Sony A58 DSLR and 75mm lens.

The image details are given below. Note that longer exposures would show trailing of Mars so I was unable to capture background detals in this tripod mounted shot.

Tuesday
Jul172018

Day 4 of new observatory

This morning with an early start I managed to put on the guide rails for the motorised roof segments and attach the motor which drives a tube that rotates and drives the roof segments to open and close. I only managed to get one roof section installed as it needs more than one person to insert all 3 segments. 

 

 

Monday
Jul162018

Day 3 of new observatory

I had to wait for the wind to die down to allow me to manhandle the sides of the observatory which delayed my start until about midday. You know what they say about englishmen and the noon day sun -although I was born in Scotland!  The temperature was in the mid 30's,  as it is every day, and insects were homing in on me. I applied the insect repellent but obviously missed a few areas so I am writing this with bites on my ears, face and elbow! I managed to put the basic structure together but am waiting until tomorrow to sort out the motorised roof. 

Here is the sequence of the structure going up.

 

 

Sunday
Jul152018

Day 2 of New Observatory

Today I put together the two halves of the observatory metal base in the correct location. Obviously there will need to be some courtyard tree trimming!

They were secured together by two bolts on the east and two bolts on the west side. One of the bolts on the east side is shown below.

 Then I drilled an M10 hole through the tiles into the concrete below on each corner. I used an M10 through bolt (concrete anchor) to fasten down the base as shown below. See the you tube video here. I made sure tht the top of the bolt is below the level of the floor ledge on each corner.

 I made sure that the metal base was level in east-west and north-south directions. The east west level is shown below

The north -south level is shown below

Saturday
Jul142018

New Observatory Arrives at my Spanish Base

My new observatory has arrived at my place in Spain in the province of Almeria today - delivered from Albacete. The pieces are all stacked against the wall of my courtyard where I am going to assemble it.

Half of the heavy metal base is shown in the image which was taken from the south side of the courtyard.