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, December 3, 2015

Observatory under attack by Astronomer Assistant Ruby, Hard times with Lie Algebra, Setup using commercial spectrometer, See you at Black Star (if we surve Ruby)

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

This Saturday night at Black Star Canyon might be our next scope night if the weather cooperates.  It's not yet clear if Resident Astronomer Peggy can attend or not because we are under attack by the cleverly hidden DNA hidden inside our recently acquired Astronomer Assistant Ruby.  I mentioned last week that our friends cleverly concealed the true nature of our new assistant and now we are facing the real Ruby.  We almost need
cases of food and cases of poop bags.  Real fun (not), but we are hooked.  Hope we can survive.

She can't help it, her DNA makes Ruby appear so cute and cuddly and once she arrives at the observatory, she immediately sets about destroying the place.  Last time I showed a picture of her where she ignored studying the cosmology book left in her bed and now has started biting and destroying the book.  A Lie algebra text seemed to illicit particular resignation, something I am slowing beginning to acquire myself.

She has also started interfering with our studying and continually jumps on our lap and/or book or keyboard and prevents getting anything done for more than a few minutes.  She also has been attacking the observatory infrastructure and has been eating tables, chairs, power cords, computer cables.

It's not clear how much longer we will be able to communicate with the outside world.  If you don't hear from us next week, please don't show up at the observatory because Ruby has an infectious personality and you will be captivated and then ultimately conquered.

Resident Astronomer Peggy has taken Ruby to the vet for her first set of so called puppy shots.  The good news is that thanks to a version of special relativity, Ruby ages about 7 times faster than us and we might just be able to survive her antics and enjoy her cuteness.

Finally, with my few remaining minutes of freedom, I submit a brief status report on the commercial spectrometer adaption to stellar astronomy experiment.  The photo below shows my initial table top setup.  This whole experiment could turn out to be a big flop.  I made a lot of assumptions.  I did some calculations to get a preliminary assessment as to whether this would work or not, but it's still too early to tell.

The spectrometer is USB connected to the laptop and the orange optical fiber cable runs through a 1.25 inch diameter wood dowel.  The fiber cable is terminated with the cosine corrector and once it is centered in the dowel, the dowel fits perfectly into the 1.25 inch telescope tube port on the flip mirror.  The flip mirror is shown with the 2 inch telescope adapter on the right hand side. 


Palmia Observatory evaluates using a fiber optic commercial spectromer for astronomical use
Evaluating a commercial table top low cost spectrophotometer for astronomical use

Light from the telescope will be deflected up towards the eyepiece or when the mirror is flipped, the light will pass straight through to the spectrometer interface.

The laptop has free spectrometer software installed and the spectrum display is assumed to just be background light.  I say assumed because I don't know for sure if when I clicked on the "SCAN" button, the displayed spectrum was real or not.  I thought I should get something that looked like the typical black body spectrum of the sun or incandescent lighting.  I independently used just the optical fiber by itself and verified that I can see light coming through when the end with cosine corrector is illuminated.  The free end has fiber with 50 micrometer diameter and I can just barely see desk lamp light coming through.  When I turn the fiber around, I can't see anything coming out the cosine corrector.  I'll repeat this part of the experiment in a more dark environment and see what I can see.

But hey, I don't really know how to operate the spectrometer.  No, I haven't read the manual yet.  Too much interference from Astronomer Assistant Ruby.  Well, maybe not. I cannot lie, I normally don't read the manual until the darn thing doesn't work.

So, until next time this is my last free minute.  If I can get away, I'll see you at Black Star.

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