Amateurs ramblings No.8
It has been a rather long while since I posted something astronomical or otherwise in nature. Thank goodness I do not work for a newspaper or a journal since I would certainly be fired for lack of output!
Over the past several months I have been busy working and trying to stay somewhat sane in this crazy world. The sanity part happens to be the most difficult. This past May I was offered the change to fulfill a long standing dream of mine: to own my own observatory. Just think! Head outside without the hassle of setting up and with the flip of a couple of switches-bingo the observations begin! Thanks to city and county regulations this dream was not to come true this time around. Where I live there is a permit for just about everything, except if you want to place a beer cooler in your backyard. First there is the $85 permit to allow construction. Next is the $200 inspection for every little project that one does. With a total budget of $500, this project was already in trouble! To top things off were the letters to and from the surrounding neighbors granting permission for construction. Since this was not a NASA project, I hung the dream up to dry for a time. Yes, the observatory idea/dream still remains but we will allow that to come true some years down the road when we build a country home.
So what about that budget? Moving along from depression to something better: my good old Losmandy G-11 will be getting some upgrades and repairs. So far one of the repairs has been canceled. The main drive board has some corrosion on a microswitch terminal and I removed that allowing for the PEC (periodic error correction) circuit to be used. The other section may involve a trip to Radio Shack for a coiled cord and an order to Hollywood General Machining for a new stepper motor. I thought about a new main worm gear, but that can wait until later since the difference between the current and new worm gear is one arc second in periodic error. One arc second is 1/3600 of a degree, or about the diameter of a golfball approximately 5.5 miles away. My scope camera combination averages about three seconds of arc per pixel at 670mm focal length. The periodic error without corrections to guiding can be a good as 5 seconds of arc or 1.8 pixels if the mount is well adjusted. Not bad! Of course this is atmosphere limited, but I am happy with round stars in the exposures.
One of the other upgrades is a water cooled heat exchanger for the CCD camera. The cost is pretty low for telescope items, but worth the extra 20 degrees below ambient cooling. The cooler the ccd chip, the lower the dark noise present in the exposures. This dark noise must be subtracted from the image and that is done with a dark frame. A dark frame is just an image of the electronic noise present and when subtracted from the ccd’s light exposure removed that noise. At a later time I will get into the the details of ccd image processing.
Most recent forum comments:
- I believe there are time share telescopes now.
"time share observatory" in the search bar yields 342,000 hits.
- I want to propose an idea right off the top of my head ... so pass the salt shaker.
Why not fund amateurs like the "pros" do ? Since observations no longer entail putting eye to eyepiece or developing film, why no distribute the images taken for some token $$s paid to take them ? I'll never do what you've done (despite dreams of living in a mountain with my very own Mt Palomar on it's top) but perhaps I and others might fund a semi-shared 'scope give we get to see the iniverse revealed. Of course there would have to be some time sharing agreement worked out but imagine 20 people kicking in $100 and getting some say in what's imaged vs the observatory that could be made with those $$s. Who at the 'Port has a spare $100 ? Or how many more might be willing to part with $50 $20 ? And perhaps a few willing to part with more $$s ?? Is this not what a collection of like minded individuals is all about ?
In any case perhaps a topic worthy of some discussion.
About a decade ago I was one of a few like minded people who thought perhaps a few of some other forum members might just have some fun getting together with the others, only known by their aliases at that time, for a few burgers and beers. FF some years and we raised some thousands of $$s for Katrina relief (though that was not the focus at the time) and ... well ... you get the idea. ForumFest is now an institution. That forum was as small, if not smaller, than the 'Port.
So how many would like to "share" their own, albeit small, observatory ?
- Thanks! If I do not think all turns out well!
- Great post RV!!