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)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

OCA meeting to talk about how smallest galaxies form, saw the less than interesting movie "The Principle", and still trying to resolve solar scope focusing problems

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,
 First, a couple of announcements.  For those of you in Orange County, the
 OCA General meeting is tomorrow, Friday, and a professor from UCI will be
 talking about:  How do the smallest galaxies form?  It should be great.  See
 some of you there.

 Second, I saw an interesting cosmology documentary at the movie theater
 today titled "The Principle".  I was a little worried about it initially
because the author/producers are advocates of geocentrism, which says the
earth is at the center of the universe.  In general the movie explains
fairly well the rise of the Copernican principle and then the Cosmological
Principle, which says that the Earth is not in any special position and that
the observed universe would look pretty much the same, on large scales,
regardless of where the observers were located.  The cosmological principle
is a central tenet of astronomy and the evidence, movie writers
 notwithstanding, is pretty overwhelming.  But we need to keep an open mind.
The universe is a big place after all and astronomers still only understand
5% of the energy in the universe with the remaining 95% hidden in some
strange form yet to be determined.

The first photo shows the theater and how excited the audience was to attend
this blockbuster. 

Ok, ok, I was there 5 full minutes before the start of
the movie, but still only four people showed up.

Now, onto the continuing saga of trying to get some hydrogen alpha photos of
the sun.  It's been a long, frustrating journey that keeps getting closer to
to goal, but just can't seem to get there.  Originally, I thought I couldn't
focus the camera because I couldn't get the camera close enough to the
telescope.  No, that wasn't it, but I didn't realize this until after a
purchased another camera T-ring.  It turns out, after talking with the
factory, that the telescope has 400 mm focal length and I was trying to put
the camera too close.  I measured the distance from the telescope objective
lens, back through the right angle mirror and, yes, I indeed had to move the
camera almost all the way back at the end of the adjustable range.

Then to focus the camera, I turned off the color display and just focused in
black and white mode.  This removed some of the false color effects with my
camera.  The hydrogen alpha filter only lets a very small bandwidth of red
light through and yet the color camera gets confused.

So, I used black and white Liveview and cranked up the exposure time to get
a very distinct edge to the solar image and moved the focus adjustment to
get quite good focus.  Then I switched back to 1/160 of a second to actually
 take the photo.  The next two images show the latest focus attempt, while
the last image shows what the focus looked like just last week.  The first
solar image is a big improvement.  Notice the sharp edges of the sun.

But where is the hydrogen alpha detail of the turbulence in the sun's image?
It's not visible.  Why not, where did it go?  Any ideas?  I'm guessing that
I might be overexposing the image and saturating the camera and washing out
all of the finer detail.  The image in the Liveview LCD screen doesn't look
overexposed, but what else can be going on?  Tomorrow, some time, I will go
to 1/300 second or less.

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