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)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First Light with new 127 mm refractor and solar image

Well, we had a successful first light image with the new scope, but first a meeting announcement especially for those folks in OC.  This Friday the 13th meeting of OCA will have Dr. Gorjian, CalTech, speaking on Lifting the Cosmic Vale:  Spitzer observations from our own backyard to the edge of the universe.  It should be great if you dare to be out and about on Friday 13

By the way if any folks want to meet for dinner, Resident Astronomer Peggy and I have been trying various restaurants arund the Orange Circle.   This time we will be at
Haven Gastropub at 6:00 PM for dinner if anyone else wishes to meet there prior to the meeting.  It's just south of the circle at 190 S. Glassell.

Now, finally on with the successful first light through the new scope.  Since I wasn't familiar with this new polar mount, I elected to try things out in daylight and go after the sun.  The other part of the reason for daylight observing was that I didn't realize the new scope didn't come with a finder scope, so how would I know where to point the scope to see anything.  Ok, ok, I can hear the old timers saying that they don't need a finder scope, but, hey, I'm spoiled and I need one.  So, Mike at OC Telescope has got one on order for me.  He also is getting me a piggyback camera mount, so I can have another camera tagging along as the scope moves about.  My Photoshop instructor has a deal with some of the big camera vendors and he says he can get a loaner of the new 50 megapixel, or larger, camera and is looking to find a chance to try it out.  I readily agreed, so we will get together at one of the upcoming star parties and get some deep views and wide views of the sky at the same time.

The first photo shows the new scope set up on the observatory patio. 
127mm Explorer Scientific on mount (Source: Palmia Observatory)
127mm Explorer Scientific on mount (Source: Palmia Observatory)

The only thing missing was to plug in the battery, install the solar filter, attach the star diagonal and attach the camera.  Actually, I started with an eyepiece at first so I was not stressed out about too much the first time.  That was a good thing because when I turned on the mount for the first time, the first question it asked was "what language to use" and before I could get my fingers to work right, I had inadvertently selected Spanish.  Oops, even though I know a bit of Spanish, this situation was not going to work.  Ok, I know, just turn the mount off and start over.  Nope, once set to Spanish it's coming up Spanish every time.  Now, I was in a real mess and since I had just about five minutes left before I had to leave for my gravity study group, I had to give in do what I normally wouldn't have done that early on in a new project.  Yes, I had to get the operating manual and read up on how to reselect the right language for me.  Whew, finally, the mount controller is displaying astronomer jibber-jabber that I can actually understand.

 Initially, I thought finding the sun was going to be a pain, but the new scope is so much longer, it's shadow makes it easier to line up with the sun.  It turned out I didn't have any trouble at all and my initial polar alignment, based on sight and memory or where the North Star is, worked just fine and the scope moved directly to the sun.

I really like the new 10/1 focus knob control.  It was much easier to adjust and so easy that I moved right to the end of focus adjustability and couldn't get the camera to focus, even if the eyepiece came into good focus.  Now what to do.   I got this whole new more robust setup,so I could do longer astro exposures.  Luckily, I found I could remove one of the optical adapter rings and get a better focus range.  The second photo is the first light photo of as it turns out, of a quiet sun, with only one group of visible sunspots. 
Sunspots with solar filter on 127mm Explore Scientific and DSLR (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Sunspots with solar filter on 127mm Explore Scientific and DSLR (Source: Palmia Observatory)

Now, as soon as Mike calls and says my new finder scope is in, we will off to some night observing.  The new finder scope is illuminated and has 8 x 50 lens.  That setup should make alignment much easier than my previous finder scope.

Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George

If you are interested in things astronomical or in astrophysics and cosmology
Check out this blog at www.palmiaobservatory.com

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