I chose the name Central Coast Observatory since this is where Lompoc is located on the California coast. Although the sky is not very light polluted the seeing conditions in this area are poor. Transparency is generally poor due to water vapor agricultural dust and other fine particles such as pollen. For example, only once since 2009 was I able to just barely see the Milky Way and then only with averted vision. Prior years were much the same. Therefore I am pleased that I was able to capture the images exhibited in this web site.

It took much work, lots of time, and required pushing the sensors and optical systems to their limit. Some image processing was required for most images. Lunar imagery is generally no problem. For the most part I feel the systems I have are very robust and thus far have performed well given the seeing conditions in the area.

The observatory is totally home made and is 11 feet in diameter and 8 feet in height. The dome is manually rotated either clockwise or counter-clockwise on twenty-one base ring rollers and 5 radial rollers. The base is 4 inch thick concrete with a cinder block dome base and the dome is constructed entirely of plywood.

The photographs in this web site were taken using two Schmidt Cassegrain Telescopes (SCT) systems. The observatory houses a Meade LX-90 GPS 12 inch system mounted in Polar mode on a Meade Ultra Wedge and Tripod. Two cameras were used, a Meade Deep Space ll CCD Camera (DSI) and a Meade Lunar Planetary CCD camera (LPI). A Compaq computer controls both cameras.

The second SCT is housed in the Solar Observatory and workshop located next to the dome. The Solar optics are shown mounted in the Alt/Azimuth mode but since March 2010 has been reconfigured to the Polar mode. It is a Meade 8 inch GPS SCT and is equipped with a Baader solar white light filter on the primary optics and the spotting scope. Piggyback to the 8 inch is a Coronado 40mm Personal Solar Telescope (PST). The PST and the 8 inch optics imagery were taken with the primary camera which is the Image Source DMK31 monochrome ccd camera. The secondary camera is a Celestron NexImage Solar System CCD Camera. A Lap Top PC controls the solar imaging cameras.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Messier 25, IC 4725 is an open cluster in Sagittarius and is at a distance of 2500 light years. The spatial diameter of the cluster is 19 light years.  A Delti Cephi type variable star,U Sagitarii, is a member of the cluster and has a period of 6.74 days.  Two Giants of spectral type M and two of G are also members of the cluster.  The image was photographed using a DSI ll ccd camera and a 12" SCT.  Exposure time was 2 minutes.
The Saturn Nebula, NGC 7009 is a planetary nebula in Aquarius. Its distance is not exactly known but estimates are between 3000 and 5500 light years. The nebula was originally a low mass star that transformed itself into a rather bright white dwarf of magnitude 11.5.  It is a very complex planetary nebula containing many morphological and kinematic sub systems.  It includes a halo, jet-like streams, multiple shells and small scale filaments and knots. Seeing conditions were fair, exposure time was 5 minutes using a DSI ll ccd and a 12"SCT.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Caldwell 50, NGC 2244 Open Clusterr in Monoceros lies at a distance of 5200 light years and shines at magnitude 4.8.  The cluster lies within the Rosette Nebula, Caldwell 49.  The stars of the cluster were formed from the nebulas dust and gases.  The brightest of the cluster stars cause the nebula to shine by excitation of its gasses to emit radiation. Star formation is on going in the region.  Image of the cluster was captured by a 2.5 minute exposure using a DSI ll ccd camera, a focal reducer and a 12" SCT.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Solar Loop prominance 2 Dec 09 Coronado Personal SolarTelescope (PST).  Neximage solar planetary ccd camera coupled Afocal to 16.8 mm ocular at PST prime focus. Exposure 5 seconds 108 images processed using RegiStax software.

Lunar scape Southern region.  Three major craters captioned.  Photographed using Meade Lunar Planetary (LPI) ccd camera and Meade 12" LX-90 GPS, exposure time 5 seconds, no filters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Caldwell 12, NGC 6946 in the constallation of Cygnus/Cepheus lies at a distance of 10 million light years and shines at a magnitude of 8.8.  It spans approx 8.8 by 11.2 arc minutes. It is a mixed spiral galaxy and has a common name of the Fireworks Galaxy.  More Supernova have been discovered in this galaxy than any other. There are red emission nebula in the spiral arms and are a result of rapid star formation. The image was taken using a DSI ll CCD camera, f3.3 focal reducer and a 12" SCT.  Exposure time (no filter) was 5 minutes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Messier 78, NGC 2068 is a reflection nebula in the constallation of Orion and lies 1600 light years distant. It is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula of a group of nebulas in the Orion molecular cloud complex. Two stars, HD38563A and HD38563B are responsible for making the cloud of dust and gas visible by reflection of their light. There are about 45 variable stars of the T Tauri type, young stars still in the process of formation as well as some 17 Herbig-Haro objects known in M78. These 45 stars are of low mass with irregular emission lines. Stars of this type are known as Main Sequence stars which vary in brightness and spectral type (F or G) and are similar to the chromosphere of our sun. Main Sequence stars are in the state of hydrostatic equilibrium where outward thermal pressure from the hot core is balanced by inward gravitational pressure from the overlying layers.  The image was taken with a DSI ll CCD camera, f3.3 focal reducer and a 12" SCT. Exposure time was 5 minutes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Messier 42, NGC 1976 is the Great Nebula in the constallation of Orion. It is the brightest star forming and brightest nebula in the sky. It lies at a distance of 1200 light years. In the glowing gas there are some 500 known variable stars.  I photographed the nebula in black and white and also color.  No filtering was used. The images were photographed using a DSI ll CCD camera, f3.3 focal reducer and a 12" SCT, exopsure time was 5 minutes per photo.

Messier 103, NGC 581 is an open cluster in the constallation of Cassiopeia and lies at a distance of 8,500 light years. Its apparent magnitude is 7.4.  The two brightest stars in the cluster are a B5 Ib Super Giant and a B2 lll giant. It also contains one Red Giant of spectral class M6 lll. There are a lot of main sequence stars that indicate the age of the cluster as 22 million years. The cluster is approaching us at 37 kilometers per second. The clusters angular diameter of 6 minutes of arc gives a linear size of 15 light years. Photographed using a DSI lll ccd camera and a 12" SCT, exposure time was 3 minutes.