Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last post of 2014 and new Coronado Solar Scope and Astronomer Assistants

Well, this week has been a week of lessons.  Last time the images of Polaris and its companions was discussed.  There was learning involved there in how to capture the images, but the real lesson is in not assuming you know what you see, because it just might not be so.  Oops, I assumed the image of the star far to the left of Polaris was Polaris B and now it doesn't seem to be so.  Once I actually calculated the arc distance between Polaris A and Polaris B, the true situation was revealed.  The stars are really much to close together to be the star I assumed and picked.

The measured distance to the very close in star (shown in the previously displayed enlarged image) was re computed to be 16 arc.  My previous estimate was

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking at the North Star (Polaris) for the first time up close and personal

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well the dog's timing was just right last night.  After walking the dog, the cloud overcast was just such as I could barely make out what appeared to be Polaris.  It was hard to know for sure, since the Big Dipper was not visible.  Anyway, I set the camera and tripod up on

Friday, December 19, 2014

Opportunity to visit and look through the 60-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson


Greetings from the Palmia Observatory
 
This weekly update covers:
(1).  Opportunity for a night of observing at the 60 inch scope on Mt Wilson
(2).  Weather delayed photo imaging goal for Polaris, The North Star
(3).  Photo image of constellation Orion
 
First, The OCA is considering a night of observing at the 60 inch Mt. Wilson scope.  It's too early in the planning process to know exactly when or any of the details and what it will cost to rent the scope and operator, but it is important to get

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving greetings and life observed from within a 65 light-year radius bubble

Thanksgiving greetings from Palmia Observatory


Hope you're having a good time.  We've been tied up with celebrations and didn't get the scope out.  However, I did pick the next astronomical target to capture with the scope and did perform one light propagation calculation and measurement with

Saturday, October 25, 2014

First Sunspot Photo

The attached images are Photoshopped enlargements of the sunspots taken during the recent eclipse.  I am a rank amateur with Photoshop, but am trying to enhance the sunspots.  Viewing the sunspots thru the scope seemed to give better detail and I am trying to recover some of that.



My camera resolution is 18 megapixels and I thought I could bring out more detail, but maybe my original focus was off.  Ever time I tweaked the focus knob on the scope the image jittered so much I had to wait a couple of seconds for the scope to settle down and didn't get quite the focus i was looking for.

Maybe that is why my current concentration is more on theoretical physics than experimental physics.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rushed back from AIAA Advanced Propulsion Lunch to take images of the solar eclipse

Greetings from the Palmia Observatory

Well, I had to rush back to the observatory, from the AIAA Advanced Space Propulsion lunch meeting in El Segundo, to catch some images of the solar eclipse.  I was going to attend the UCI physics colloquium on neutrinos, but the eclipse

Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Palmia Observatory Naming and Spectroscopy Post

Well, my astrophysics work is continuing and we now have a new observatory.  We live in a condominium complex, called Palmia, and its hard to just go out into the parking lot in front of our house because the street lamps and house address lights are so bright.  We have driven to the OCA dark site (about 25 minutes away) for the really dark site at Anza (about 2.5 hours away), but this makes observing into a much more involved process.  We found that the condominium tennis courts, about 5 blocks away, provide an excellent place to set up the scope.  Nobody plays tennis after about 8:30pm, so we can set up at that time.  We've been using that location for several nights now, so it time to christen that location:  Palmia Observatory.

Newsflash from Palmia Observatory.
Amateur science can be coupled with amateur astronomy very easily with the low cost tools that are available now.  The Palmia Observatory resident astronomer, George, has acquired a 100 lines/mm diffraction grating and analysis software from www.rspec-astro.com, for just a couple of hundred dollars.  The first attempt at collecting a spectrum of a star was performed last night using the bright star Arcturus.  The spectrum from the diffraction grating is shown below.


The respec software generates the spectrum plot shown in the pdf document.  Look at the intensity peaks.  Pretty neat!
The next step is to learn how to calibrate the spectrum plot in order to convert camera pixels into wavelengths.