Archive for LXD75

Sunspot #1024

Posted in astronomy, Astronomy links, astrophotography, Photo, photography, Solar, Space, Star, Sun, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by Andrew

Once again,the sun is begining to show signs of activity.I received another email from Spaceweather.com about the sudden appearance of sunspot #1024 which has been growing quickly.According to the site,solar class C  flares have been almost constant in the sunspot region,giving astronomers around the world a chance to dust off their scopes and image a not so quiet sun.My initial reaction to the new activity was of utter disbelief as I looked at the new spots on the SOHO website which is a great site for real time images of the sun.The magnetic polarity of these new spots indicates that they are the newest members of Solar cycle 24 which,is becoming more intense as the solar jet stream stimulates sunspot production.

The image below was shot at prime focus.

Click for larger image

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The images below were shot with afocal projection using a 26mm eyepiece.

Click for larger image.

sunspot-1024

Image credit:Andrew

imformation credit: Spaceweather.com,SOHO

Sunspot #1023

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by Andrew

I received a email alert from spaceweather.com yesterday alerting me that the sun has a pair of new sunspots which are now visible.I was bit upset about this due to the fact that not only do I have very little time to observe but,we have been under a thick layer of clouds for the past month+ as well.Why is it that whenever we have a bit of space excitement Mother nature always seems to be a wet blanket?.I refer to having new sunspots as space excitement only because the sun has been spotless for such a long period of time.I have officially stopped listening to the local weather forcaster (as of this morning) because they never get the forecasting right.I went to bed lastnight with the impression that I would be waking up to typical cloudcover.When I awoke this morning I was quite thrilled to see absolutely clear blue sky!!! 🙂 .Once again the forecasters got it wrong but,hey I’m not upset.In fact I”m glad they screwed it up!!!.After I had my gallon of coffee (heh,just kidding….it was only a half gallon!),I quickly set my big scope up and faked the alignment.Gotta hurry cuz,my guess was that it would turn cloudy again and it did after a couple hours.With a few puffy clouds drifting past I was able to get quite a few images of the new spots only to delete them due to DIRTY LENSES 😦 .Hmmmm,well I did image spots,just not the type of spots that I was trying for!!.Thats right…I haven’t used the scope in such a long time that it had sadly become a dust magnet *crowd boo’s and hisses*.With little time to spare I performed a quick cleanup and managed to get a few more shots before the clouds moved back in.

According to  Spaceweather.com these new spots are from new solar cycle 24..

From Spaceweather.com – The magnetic polarity of sunspot 1023 identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Its appearance coincides with the movement of two solar jet streams into a range of heliographic latitudes that promotes sunspot formation. No one knows exactly how the sun’s deep jet streams boost the sunspot count, but they do. As a result, this week’s sunspot activity might herald more to come.

sunspot-1023

Imformation credit: Spaceweather.com

Image credit: Andrew

M51 (Whirlpool galaxy)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by Andrew

I managed to get the scope out for some observing a couple weeks back and was treated to some fantastic skies…Yaaaaaay!!!!!!!.The temps were were seasonable and in the mid to upper 20s F with calm winds.I was going to use my DSLR again but,since the temps were half way decent I used the Meade DSI instead.My thought was that I was going to image the comet with the DSI but,realised that it was directly over head which is good for imaging.Problem is,my scope will give me a alert that the OTA will come into contact with the tripod so,that idea quickly vanished.
Knowing that their are lots of other faint fuzzies to be seen I decided on observing/imaging Messier object #51 a.k.a the Whirlpool galaxy.As many of you know,observing this object from light polluted skies is next to impossible?!.In recent posts I have mentioned how different the skies are from my new location compared to the street observing I was used to.Well,M51 was a object that I had never seen with my scope but,still managed to image anyway.This observing night was well worth the time consuming task of setup and alignment (hope to build…or buy a observatory in the near future! ;p ) and the hoots of a distant Owl seemed like a approval for my decision.Hahahahahaha,actually it was a unsettling sound which made me think of a scene from some horror flick.I had a fantastic view of M51 which,appeared as a faint fuzzy gray patch.That was until I got the DSI centered and focused on it.WOW!!!.This galaxy suddenly went from fuzzy to showing alot of detail including the bridge of gas that is being ripped from it’s companion NGC 5195.
Because of numerous reasons i.e foul weather,work and family health reasons, I haven’t had a lot of time to really get to know the workings of the DSI or find the proper settings that work for my style of imaging…heh,ok I don’t have a style! 🙂 .So,if you see a problem with any of my images and know the solution to fix them,feel quite free to give me a friendly heads up.
Located in the constellation Canes Venatici,M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) is  60,000 light-years across and about 31 million light-years distant.It can be seen not far from the handle of the Big dipper which puts it quite high in the sky in northern latitudes and has a visual mag of +8.4 .
According to the SEDS,M51 is easy and a showpiece if the sky is dark, but is quite sensitive for light pollution which easily makes it fade in the background. Under very good conditions, even suggestions of its spiral arms can be glanced with telescopes starting from 4-inch. Low magnification is best for viewing this pair.
RA 13 : 29.9 (h:m) DEC +47 : 12 (deg:m)
Image credit :Andrew
Imformation credit: www.seds.org/

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NGC 869,NGC 884 (The Double Cluster)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by Andrew

One of the other naked eye objects that I took images of is of the Double cluster.As I mentioned in my last post,this cluster was easily seen without optical aide which is one of the objects that I can’t see naked eye, when observing in the middle of town.This is obviously due to the fact that this cluster is located to my north which happens to be directly over the middle of town.So,all I see in that direction are a few brighter stars shrouded by the pinkish glow of street lights.

I had written a post previously about the Double cluster including a image and thought that it looked pretty nice with what I thought at the time included lots of stars.Heh,I decided to compare the two images and to my surprise,the most recent shot has probably 3 times as many stars as the old one.Dark skies dark skies dark skies!!!.That is what it is all about.The difference is truely amazing!!!.

The famous double cluster in Perseus was known in antique times (probably even pre-historically), and first cataloged by the Greek astronomer Hipparcos.
Both clusters are situated in Perseus and are only a few hundred light-years appart, at a distance of over 7000 light years.
At a visual mag of +4.3,NGC 869 is approaching us at 22 km per second.
At a visual mag of +4.4,NGC 884 is also approaching us at a slightly slower 21 km per second.

 

Hypertune complete….?!

Posted in astronomy, Photo, photography, Uncategorized with tags , on May 21, 2008 by Andrew

The teardownWell,I performed the hypertune on my scope this weekend and it proved….well…interesting to say the least.I arrived at Michael’s house and home of “Mount Washington Valley Astronomy,a few hours later than I said I would be.Heh,I fell asleep at my home 😛 .As the evening meal was being prepared (Michael proved himself as being one heck of a good cook),we watched the Hypertune DVD trying to digest as much understanding as to the inner workings of the LXD75 mount as possible.

TIME 9PM:No sooner had the DVD ended,that we headed out to the workshop and proceeded to dismantle our LXD75 mounts.Almost from the beginning,I knew that we were in for a struggle.Not being very mechanically inclined,I was the one doing the struggling and in the back of my mind figured that I would have parts left over after the hypertune!.Both mounts proved to be quite tough to disassemble and it wasn’t long into the tear down that we realised that our mounts were in fact quite different compared to what we were expecting in relation to the DVD.After a couple hours of carefully dis assembly,we decided to start fresh the next morning.

After breakfast on Sunday morning,we began the task of cleaning the nasty factory grease off of the gears,spacers,bearings and all the other places that this sticky grease resided.The next step in the hypertune process was the time consuming sanding and polishing of the gears.This proved to be  very satisfying and interesting to see,as the gears go from a dull finish to  almost a mirror finish.Soon however,my lack of mechanical ability began to show it’s head.Instead of keeping the spacers and the other partstogether for each drive separate.I just willy nilly placed all of the parts together in the cleaning tray,not giving any thought to any possible problems that this would create.To give a idea of what I am talking about,each drive has a minimum of 5 spacers of various sizes.These spacers have to be assembled in the order that they were removed!!! 😦 .Not including the other small threaded pieces!.To add insult to injury,the set screws for these mounts proved to be trouble as some were nearly impossible to remove.Now began the assembly of the freshly polished and greased mount and the increase of my frustration.As tough as the tear down was,it didn’tcompare to the problems that I had putting it back together.Good thing I didn’t have to put humpty dumpty back together again.I would have gotten frustrated and turned him into breakfast!!.During my battle of trying to remember which spacer went where and in what order,Michael in the mean time was calmly and efficiently putting his LXD75 mount back together without a hitch.My scope however,had suddenly turned into a stubborn mule and it seemed to fight me every step of the way to completion.The biggest battle was inserting some copper shims that keeps the DEC housing from binding up against the rest of the mount.Without the shims the scope would be able to move on it’s DEC axis.Finally,after creating more shims from thin washers,we were able to tightly bolt the 2 housings together without binding.The next thing was adjusting the worm gears and installing the motors….no problems!!.

The time had finally come to test the mount for smoothness.I placed the mount on the tripod and fired the scope up.The RA gear moved  much better than before and this gave me a boost in spirit.The DEC motor seemed to work a bit smoother but,sounded much louder than before.While testing the motors,I forgot to do one important thing.I forgot to add the counter weights and without thinking,I had slewed the scope to a point where gravity took over and the OTA flopped over and made contact with a tripod leg.It seemingly didn’t hit very hard (or so I had thought at the time) as Michael and I had tried to stop it before it made contact.With that said,I decided it was time to head for home and said my thanks and goodbye.I awoke very early yesterday morning and felt unsure of the resulting hypertuneand sound of the DEC motor so,I removed the motor and tweaked the worm gear again.This time the gear sounded much improved and ran even smoother than before.All happiness fire that I had at that point was quickly extinguished when I looked down the long axis of the OTA and saw a dent near the primary mirror.OMG,the OTA did hit and had apparently hit hard as the dent is about 3″long and about 1/32-1/8th deep.Fearing the worst,I quickly inserted a laser collimator to see how badly the mirror was out of whack and wouldn’t you know it….the batteries were dead.So,I drilled a hole into the supplied eye piece cover and checked the mirror that way.It didn’t look too bad but,I wanted to be sure it wasn’t messed up so I went to Radio shack for new batteries.I inserted the new cells into the laser and checked.Yay!.The laser light was dead center and the OTA just looks… well… used!.

In the mean while,I contacted Richard of Scopetrader.com (where I bought the hypertune kit from) and presented the above problems to him.I had other issues with the hypertune that I didn’t mention in this post as well.He has offered to tweak and finetune my mount at no charge except shipping to and from his shop.I must say,it is nice to see a company stand behind their product and I highly recommend Scopetrader to anyone that wants to tune up their gear!.I won’t be shipping the mount to him yet though.I want to give the scope a trial run first, to see if it will or won’t perform to what I am expecting.

I will keep everyone updated on the results so,wish me luck!!.

                                               

 

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