NGC7000 - LBN354

NGC7000 - LBN354
Originally uploaded by Mickut
Oh well. If it can fail, it will fail.

Not sure if anything went smoothly tonight, first I went almost off-the-road then got nearly stuck on the hill to the imaging site. When there, the scope shelter was buried in a foot of snow and the locks were frozen. Finally I got almost everything assembled, simply to realize that the power-cord from the transformer to 12V distribution block was left home. Luckily I found one in the nearly warm cabin, so it was time to fire up the gear. Velcro glues peeled off the mount in the -20 temperatures, and I had to fetch a rope to tie the distribution block to the mount. Quite soon it was obvious that nothing worked perfectly, so park the scope, dis- and reconnect all wires, restart applications and everything seems to work nicely for a change. Except, when focusing I noticed that the shutter isn't fully open on all of the frames. Tried a few longer exposures and the same thing continued, the upper half was more likely to go all the way off-sensor, lower half got stuck one third the way down. In six hours I managed to get 30 minutes of botched luminosity instead of targeted 3+ hours of LRGB data.


Slow progress is still progress

My simplistic SW-project for automating the tedious task to center on a target is slowly bearing fruit. At last I have a GUI written that can be used to test whether my library works correctly or not.

The current capabilities of the GUI are capturing an image (at least screenshot, ASCOM and from file works), solving it with astrometry.net -solver, syncing and reslewing an ASCOM compatible telescope, and calculating the distance from assumed target and solved image center.

I'm still not decided on the name, currently the library is AstroMate and the preliminary name of the GUI is AstroTortilla. Hopefully I end up with a single name, although the second utility based on the same library is an alignment helper (currently unstarted and unnamed) based on automatic imaging and solving when moving on the RA axis.


The end of a season

Yestarday was the end-of-season party at the golf club, featuring a fairly funny comedian trickster who had a couple of new tricks up his sleeve, but mostly his definitely well practiced quips on people and events around made an impression. This year I didn't succeed on any of the competitions, so hopefully I get to practice a bit during the winter and early spring in order to improve my game come next summer. This season was definitely "ruined" by the short game. On the Hill course I reached the green from tee five times, and on 15th three times, didn't score a single eagle. What's even worse is that out of those eight chances for an eagle I made only two birdies. Anyone willing to go practice with me, just to make sure that practicing would happen?


Blog relocation

I've relocated my old blog(s) here from Wordpress and MovableType, and it was almost a straight forward conversion using the google-blog-converters-appengine web-services. Only some minor issues like character encoding didn't auto-convert to UTF-8 so that had to be done by hand, and one of the blog-posts had an eight-dash line which in MovableType export file marks the end of a blog-entry. This caused the XML to be malformed and the entry importing froze without indication of error.

All in all this should now be my real blog, some old entries are likely broken, especially the ones trying to show images in pop-up windows.

The Running Man - NGC 1973, 1975 and 1977 in LRGB

LRGB image of the often neglected companion of M42 The Great Orion Nebula. The Running Man nebula is a combination of an open cluster and reflection, emission and dark nebulae. I wanted to show the eerie faint red glow of the ionized hydrogen behind the bright reflective parts as well as the immense depths of darkness available in the vast nebulous region.

The battle against reflections continues. I've been suffering from horrendous internal reflections, and after matting most of the inner surfaces I still have a serious problem with something reflecting to the edges, the current suspect is the inner surfaces of the filter rings. Time to go looking for a very dark matte black with an extremely fine pigment.


The blind can see

It works! giving an old image of the M31 for the solver yielded a quick positive identification and a nice annotated version showing the objects discovered.
After a few tries I managed to compile the current development version of the astrometry.net blind solver and with a few tweaks also the annotation component under Cygwin. Now I can start working on the interesting projects of plate solving based polar alignment and plate solved goto refinement as well as make preparations for future gallery entries with nice lists of objects and suitable metadata.


200mm f/3.6 Leitz Elmaron test

Got a lens to be used for guiding, so I had to test that the old piece of glass is still in a drawing condition. This stacked 5 frames of 5s each was taken thru pouring rain, and processed a bit to enhance local contrasts to enable inspection by human eyes and normal display devices.


M101 first light

M101 first light
Originally uploaded by Mickut
First test imaging was done in a bit of a hurry and by surprise, thus nothing worked and polar alignment was off by a mile. I'm still waiting for the filter wheel, thus didn't spend too much time trying to get guiding working, although it's clear I should've done so. But after all, the SXVR-H18 seems like a decent camera despite some rather dissappointing features, mainly the CCD distance from flange is a too long (around 24mm!) to allow using a filterwheel with SLR optics for widefield imaging.


Time to quote a fun danish band: Haps, haps, haps, nu skal vi ha snaps. @ Manala, Dagmarinkatu 2, Helsinki, Suomi http://bit.ly/aKs0ZF


Kevyt lauantai-iltapäivän ohjelma koostuu hyvästä lounaasta ja (toivottavasti) mahtavasta pelikierroksesta. @ Hillside Golf, Luolaistentie 24, Vihti, Suomi http://bit.ly/dxEzuQ


Devaamassa (eli Grassroots Brewing Deva double IPA) @ Pikku Lintu, Rättärinpolku 2, Helsinki, Suomi http://bit.ly/9LV7SH


Between seasons

The nights are getting darker earlier and earlier, and the weather is getting cold. The season for weekday golf is nearly gone, but the skies are just getting to be dark enough for astrophotos. So, what to do when it's raining and thundering? Can't go out and play, nor can you go out and look at the stars. The obvious answer is, of course, to build more gadgets and fiddle with computers. I guess this blog is an attempt to waste more time instead of doing anything that should be done, like cleaning up the house. I've tried to write a blog some times earlier, but it never really caught on, mainly since any reason to write one has been of a seasonal nature. Hopefully this time the two main activities overlap sufficiently and have enough things to write about, so I can keep this alive a bit longer thanks to the advances in mobile communications and real-time reporting options when it happens where it happens.