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Observatory Construction

Posted by Paul On September - 2 - 2018


9/2/2018 A few months ago I decided to add an observatory since I was getting tired of hauling my telescope out and spending quite a bit of time in aligning it.  Having an observatory will enable me to begin imaging almonst immediatly and to continue taking pictures long into the night.  The observatory I'm installing is made by Nexdome in Canada.  Here I will post some pictures of it as well as pictures I've taken during it's construction.  Below are pictures I took from the Nexdome website.






















I was really limited as to where I could place the observatory, both by the layout of our property and zoning restrictions for detached buildings.  Thus, I decided to build on the south end of our driveway.  This had advantages and disadvantages.  It made it easy to build a platform for the obs, but difficult to install a robust heavy pier for the telescope.  I ended up pouring a 2x2x1 foot cement footing that weighed in at about 600 pounds.  I'm hoping that will provide enough rigidity for the pier so that I can take long exposure images without worrying about vibrations..  Here are the construction photos:

9/3/2018 The bids I got for the pier fabrication were way higher than I expected.  I ended up going to a metal sales center and purchased essentially scrap pieces.  I ended up with 3/8 steel plates and a 6 5/8 steel pipe with 3/8 thickness.  They were able to cut the pieces to the sizes I needed, then I drilled the holes myself and tapped where necessary.  I had a local auto fab shop grind off the sharp corners and edges and weld it all together.  Instead of powder coating I cleaned everything with acetone then sprayed it with Rust-Oleum flat black.  Here are the plans for the pier:



9/3/2018 Here are the plans for the observatory layout.

9/5/2018 The telescope computer storage box is finished.

9/14/2018 Here are the latest photos of the observatory and the interior.  Everything is installed, but I'm still changing things to make it more workable inside.  I still need to get the shutter and dome rotation working through the laptop using Sequience Generator Pro.

9/18/2018 Here are some higher quality images that I took today.


Posted by Paul On July - 2 - 2018

This page details images that I've made with my new astrophotography camera, the ZWO ASI294MC PRO.  

The Sony IMX294CJK is the first internal imaging sensor for astronomical cameras to support the Type 4/3 format, producing the pixel output necessary for 4K at 120 frame/s (in ADC 10-bit output mode, the ASI294MC can run up to 25 fps at 4K format base on USB3.0 bandwidth). Additionally, the ASI294MC Pro uses large pixels to achieve SNR1s of 0.14 1x* which is comparable to the ASI224's (0.13 1x*) value.

This camera can cool the sensor up to 35 Deg C below ambient, and is much much more sensitive and noise free than my Canon 60da DSLR.


6/1/2018 My latest image tonight is Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to it’s proximity to Earth, large size, and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers. (Wikipedia)

This image was made using my new astrophotography camera and is composed of 29×60 second images. This camera is much more sensitive and the sensor tonight was cooled to 32 degrees F.  I still have a lot to learn about using this camera and Astro Photography Tool software.  These images were made with a camera gain set to 200 then the best 75% were stacked in DSS (Deep Space Stacker) along with 10 dark frames.  I didn't use flat or bias frames.

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7/24/18 Last night I imaged NGC 6888. This image is composed of 297 x 15 second which yields 74 minutes of data. I processed it in DSS and Photo Shop.

From NASA: NGC 6888, also known as the Crescent Nebula, is a cosmic bubble about 25 light-years across, blown by winds from its central, bright, massive star. NGC 6888's central star is classified as a Wolf-Rayet star(WR 136). The star is shedding its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind, ejecting the equivalent of the Sun's mass every 10,000 years. The nebula's complex structures are likely the result of this strong wind interacting with material ejected in an earlier phase. Burning fuel at a prodigious rate and near the end of its stellar life this star should ultimately go out with a bang in a spectacular supernova explosion. Found in the nebula rich constellation Cygnus, NGC 6888 is about 5,000 light-years away.


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9/25-27/2018 Here is M27, the Dumbbell Nebula, imaged over three nights with a total of 5 hours 24 minutes.  This is the first image set taken in the observatory.


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