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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This image of Mare Humorum "Sea of Moisture" is an old impacet basin some 875 kilometers across. The mountains surrounding the Mare mark its edge. It is infilled with Mare lavas and a relatively thick layer of Basalt estimated to be 3 kilometers thick at its center. Rupes Liebig is a fault running along the edge of the mare (see star). Mare Humorum is bordered by Oceanus Procellarum "Ocean of Storms" and Mare Nubium "Sea of Clouds". Crater Gassendi was considered as a landing site for Apollo 17. Imaged with Meade SCT and LPI ccd camera. (click to enlarge)

On 7 December a large Solar magnetic filament (some 700,000Km long) became unstable, collapsed and in a blast of epic proportions erupted on the south east limb of the sun. It produced a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) spewing high energy particals and plasma into space. The CME was not aimed toward Earth. The image exhibits only the beginning of the CME because of obscuring clouds. Eight (8) images were taken at random intervals of 3 to 5 minutes, processed with RegiStax and Gimp software into a endless loop gif file. Image capture using a Coronado 40mm PST and Image Source DMK 31 ccd camera.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This photo is a high resolution image of a section of Mare Imbrim Latin for "Sea of Showers" or "Sea of Rains". The main features of this area are Craters  Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Conon, Timocharis, Bancroft, Autolycus, Aristillus and the mountain range Montes Apenninus. These mountains rise more than 4572 meters (15,000 Ft) above the Mare.  Mare Imbrim is the largest of the Lunar Mare. It is an ancient impact basin infilled by impact and volcanic materials. As an added note, Apollo 15 landed in this South East region of the Mare near the Apenninus mountains (see arrow) in a region called Palus Putredinis "Swamp of Decay" near Hadley Rille a V shaped gorge.  Hadley Rille not visible in this image.  Image capture 12" SCT and DMK 31 ccd.(Click image to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Messier 50, NGC2323 is an open cluster in the constallation of Monoceros near the border of Canis Major. This area is rich in stars and nebulae. The cluster is approx 3200 light years distant and has an angular diameter of 15 x 20 arc minutes which translates to a linear extention of 20 light years. The central dense part being only 10 light years in diameter. Its visual brightness is magnitude 5.9. The brightest star is of spectral class B8 and magnitude 9.0. South of center is a red M class giant. The cluster also contains some yellow giants. The age of the cluster is estimated at 78 million years. Imaged with 12 inch SCT, F3.3 focal reducer and DSI2 ccd camera (2 minute exposure).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Messier 52 NGC7654 an open cluster in the constallation of Cassiopeia is approximately 5000 light years distant. The actual distance is not well known so 5000 light years is an adopted value. It has an apparent diameter of 13.0 arc minutes yielding a linear extention of 19 light years. The density near the center is about 3 stars per cubic parsec. Sky catalouge 2000 gives the age of the cluster at 35 million years. There are several main sequence stars the brightest is of spectral type B7. Two yellow giants are brighter one of which is spectral type F9 and the other is spectral type G8. One particular star is of spectral class OF, an extremely hot star with peculiar spectral lines of helium and Nitrogen. Imaged with a 12 inch SCT DSI 2 ccd camera and an F3.3 focal reducer. Three minute exposure, seeing conditions were below average.

Messier 56 NGC6779 is a globular cluster in the constallation of Lyrae. It lies at a distance of 32,900 light years and lacks the bright core that most globulars have. It is one of the less bright Messier clusters. The cluster's diameter is 8.8 arc minutes corresponding to a linear extention of 85 light years. The cluster is approaching us at 145 kilometers per second. There are about a dozen variable stars in the cluster and out of the dozen there is one special variable star...a bright Cephid. In the group of variables, one is classified as an RRLyrae. Variable star V6(RV Tauri) has a period of 90 days. Variable V1 (Cephid variable) has a period of 1.51 days. M56 is easy to find since it is located about half way between Beta Cygni(Albireo) and Gamma Lyrae and lies in a nice low power Milky Way field. Image capture 12" SCT, DSI 2 CCD and F3.3 focal reducer, exposure time 2 minutes. Click to enlarge image.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Messier 15, NGC7078 Globular Cluster is located in the constallation of Pegasus. It lies at a distance of 33,600 light years. Its diameter is 18 arc minutes corresponding to a linear dimention of 175 light years. The total visual brightness is magnitude 6.2. The clusters overall spectral type is F3/F4. The cluster is approaching us at 107 kilometers per second. M15 is perhapse the densist of all globular clusters in our Milky Way galaxy. The core has undergone a contraction known as core collapse and has a central density cusp with a very large number of stars. The central core is extremely small compared to the cluster, approximately 0.14 arc minutes in angular diameter or about 1.4 light years. M15 contains 9 known pulsars which are remnants of ancient super nova. It also contains 112 variable stars and several nebula. Image capture was accomplished using a 12" SCT, F3.3 focal reducer and a DSI 2 ccd camera. Exposure time 3 minutes. Click to enlarge image.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Eastern and Western Veil Nebulas NGC6992 and NGC6960 are part of the Cygnus loop (radio source W78 or Sharpless 103). They are the remnant of a super nova in the constallation of Cygnus that exploded some 5000 to 8000 years ago. Their distance is not precisely known but estimates are 1400 to 2600 light years. The remnants have expanded to about 3 x 3 degrees or about 36 times the area of the full moon. Emmissions from the nebula indicate the presence of Oxygen, Sulpher and Hydrogen. The nebula is difficult to see though it has an integrated magnitude of 7. Use of an Olll filter isolates the wavelength of light from doubly ionized oxygen and allows the observer to see the nebula clearly. The bright star in the Western Veil is 52 Cygni at a distance of 206 light years and is not associated with the nebula. Image capture was accomplished using a 12 inch SCT, DSI-2 ccd and a 3.3 focal reducer. Exposure time for each image was 5 minutes.
Eastern Veil

Western Veil

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On 25 Oct sunspot NOAA AR1117 was growing in size. Each of the primary dark areas is fully as wide as Earth. The sun spots magnetic field is crackling with B and C class solar flares. A solar flare is what usually happens when energy stored in twisted magnetic fields, usually above the sun spot, is suddenly released. The flare produces a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to X-rays and Gamma rays. Solar flares are classified according to their X-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstromes. Three categories are: X-Class flares are big events and can cause planet wide radio blackouts and long lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium sized and can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earths Polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-Class flare. C-Class flares are small with few noticeable consequences.
The images below were captured in Hydrogen-Alpha and in White light spectrums. Seeing conditions at the time were not favorable. Some image processing was required.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On 10 Oct 2010 periodic Comet 103P/Hartley 2 was near the double cluster in the constallation of Perseus. Scientists say that comet Hartley 2 is one of the most active comets they've seen, with copious outgassing from jets in the nucleus. The comet was revealed recently because before 1986 the comet had not been in an orbital path that would bring it near Earth. Close encounters with the planet Jupiter in 1947,1971 and 1982 transfered the comets orbit. The comet will make its closest encounter on 20 Oct 2010 (11 million miles)and should be visible near the star Capella pre dawn. Hartley's nucleus is small, less than a mile in diameter. Its surface offgasses at a higher rate than it's neucleus. The green color comes from the gasses that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. The jets spewing from the comets nucleus contain cyanogen (CN) a poisonous gas and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.

The second image was taken by NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft which was within 435 miles of the Comet. The comet is somewhat Peanut shaped and is a cold, solid mass made of rock, space dust and frozen gasses.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The icy Planet Uranus is a smaller version of Jupiter and not a small rocky body like Earth. It has faint rings and 27 moons, the five largest moons are Miranda, Titania, Oberon, Umbriel and Ariel. It is the third largest planet in the solar system with a diameter of 32,000 miles. Uranus takes some 84 years to orbit the sun. It rotates on its side so half the time one pole is toward the sun and then the other making each of four seasons last approximately 20 years. It also spins backward compared to most other planets. The atmosphere is composed of approx. 83% Hydrogen, 15% Helium and 2% Methane and there are also traces of water and Ammonia. The faint bluish color is because the Methane gas in the atmosphere absorbs red light and reflects blue light. At the time of image capture, 23 September 2010, Uranus and Jupiter were only a few degrees apart. I made a composite image of the two planets. Instrument is a 12 inch SCT and Image Source DMK31 CCD camera. Total exposure time
was 15 seconds. Seeing conditions were fair. Some image processing was required.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sun Spot AR1108 emerged from the back side of the sun. It is one of the biggest of solar cycle 24 and appears to be crackling with B and C class solar flares. This sun spot may prove to be very active in the days to come. The images were captured using a Image Source DMK31 ccd camera. The camera was coupled to an 8 inch SCT equipped with a Baader solar filter for white light. The camera was coupled to a PST solar telescope for the Ha spectrum. Both images consisted of 200 frames in AVI format then combined and processed as a Jpeg using RegiStax software.

White light

Ha Spectrum

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Lunar image addresses some of the features of Mare Imbrium Latin for "Sea of Showers or Rains". It is a vast Mare that was created when lava flooded a giant impact crater that was formed long ago. The Moon's Mare have fewer features than other areas because molten lava pooled and formed a relatively smooth surface. One of the interesting features of this Mare is Vallis Alpes. Vallis Alpes, Latin for "Alpine Valley" bisects the Montes Alpes range. It is 166 Km from the Mare Imbrium basin and extends to the edge of Mare Frigoris "Sea of Cold". Vallis Alpes is narrow at both ends but widens to approx 10 Km in the middle. The Valley floor is a flat lava flooded surface. Imaged with 8" SCT and DMK 31 CCD. (Click to enlage image.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Copernicus is a prominent lunar impact crater named after the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. The crater is located in eastern Oceanus Procellarum "Sea of Storms" and is estimated to be 800 million years old. It has a prominent ray system. South of the crater is the Mare Insularum "Sea of Islands" and to the south-south west is the crater Reinhold. North of Copernicus are the Montes Carpatus "Named after Carpathian Mts in central Europe". These Montes lie at the south edge of Mare Imbrium "Sea of Showers or Rains". The relative youth of the crater kept it in fairly pristine condition since it formed. The central peaks consist of three isolated mountainous rises as high as 1.2 kilometers above the floor. These peaks are separated from each other by valleys and form a rough line along the east west axis.
Image capture was using a 8" SCT and LPI CCD camera. No image processing was performed. Click image to enlarge.
Wide angle image.

Narrow angle image

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sun Spot activity has picked up during the month of August. Of the 3 sun spots exhibited spot 1093 has been very active. The magnetic fields around the spot became unstable and erupted producing a strong M1 class solar flare. It also produced a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that gave Earth a glancing blow. This sparked some Northern Light activity. The image was captured with a Personal Solar Telescope (PST and a DMK31 CCD Camera. Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The image of Saturn with edge on rings was captured on Feb 23, 2010 using an LX-90 12" SCT and a LPI ccd camera at a 10 second exposure.
Planet saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar system. It is 74,898 miles in diameter at the equator and 67,560 miles at the poles. It is 888,200,000 miles from the sun. Its orbital period around the sun is 29.6 Earth years. It has 33+ known moons. Saturn's atmosphere is primarily Hydrogen and Helium and is less dense than water, if it were emersed in water it would float. Saturns rings are mostly water ice and rocky particles. The division in the rings, named Cassini's division, is caused by Saturn's moon Mimas's gravitational influence. Saturns largest moon Titan is slightly larger than the planet Mercury. Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system next to Jupiter's moon Ganymede. Saturns atmosphere harbors hurricane force winds. These super fast winds (approximately 1100 mph) combined with heat rising from the interior cause the yellow and gold bands in the atmosphere.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Planet Jupiter is the 5th and largest of the planets in the solar system. It lies at a distance from the Sun of 483,780,000 miles and is 88,846 miles in diameter. Jupiter has a known 52 moons the largest of which are Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. The planet contains 71% of the planetary matter in the solar system. The planet takes 12 years to orbit the Sun and has a rotation of 10 hours. It is roughly 11 earth diameters wide. It is a ball of dense Hydrogen, Helium, Nitrogen, water and other gasses over a tiny rocky core. Strong winds dominate the atmosphere. Jet streams, lightning and hurricane like storms like the great spot dominate the planet. The great red spot is a storm that has been raging for the last 300 years. Imaging was accomplished using 12" SCT and LPI ccd camera. Exposure time 30 seconds.

Messier 17 (NGC6618) The Omega Nebula also known as the Swan Nebula lies at a distance of 5500 light years in the constallation of Sagittarius. It is a bright emission nebula and is part of an enormous cloud of molecular gas. It is a region of star formation and shines by excited emission caused by radiation of young stars. The stars that heat and illuminate the nebula are not readily visible to the eye, or photographically, but hidden within. It is estimated that a small cluster of about 35 stars are imbedded in the nebulosity. The color comes from hot Hydrogen. Its magnitude estimates are 6th to 7th. The mass of gas has been estimated at 800 times that of the Sun. Instruments used were 12" SCT and DSIll ccd camera 5 minute exposure.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On 19 April I observed a solar prominence on the limb of the sun. This capture yeilded a Coronal Mass Ejection(CME)one of the biggest in years. This CME was not directed toward Earth but did release approximately a billion tons of material. Temperatures of the hot plasma gas range from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 degrees Kelvin.
CME's are enormous eruptions of magnetized plasma ejected from the sun. Average speeds are 400Km/s and some exceed 2000 Km/s.
Image capture was accomplished using a Coronado 40 mm PST and DMK31 ccd. At random intervals of 2 and 5 minutes between images, 22 images were recorded. The images were processed using Registax software and then compiled and aligned as a gif file using GIMP software.

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On April 1st my friend Steve Riegel captured a Solar Prominence exhibiting magnetized plasma looping from one side of the prominence to the other. The capture was accomplished using a Lunt 60mm PST and DMK31 ccd camera. Images were taken every 5 minutes for 90 minutes. They were then processed using Registax and GIMP software to make a gif file animation.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Filaments, Prominences,Sunspots and Solar Flares:   Filaments are formed in magnetic loops that hold relatively cool dense gas and are suspended above the surface of the Sun. When you look down at them they appear dark because the gas inside is cool compared to the hot surface (Photosphere) of the Sun.  Prominences are Filaments when seen in profile against the dark sky and look like a giant glowing loop. They are hot gas projecting from the surface into the chromosphere or Corona and are suspended in magnetic field loops above the surface.  Sunspots are regions on the solar surface that appear dark because they are cooler than the surrounding Photosphere.  Sunspots have magnetic fields stronger than anywhere else on the Sun.  This concentrated magnetic field inhibits the flow of hot new gas from the Sun's interior. They are cooler by about 1500 degrees Kelvin (2240 deg F) but are still at a temperature of 4500 degrees Kelvin (7640 deg F), this is cool compared to the rest of the Photosphere.  They are dark in a relative sense. If a sunspot were removed from the bright background of the Sun they would glow quite brightly. Some of the largest sunspots observed have had diameters of 50,000 kilometers which makes them visible to the naked eye.   A Solar Flare is a magnetic storm which appears to be a very bright spot and a gaseous surface eruption.  They release huge amounts of high energy particles and gases.  The temperatures can range from 3.6  to 24 million degrees F and are ejected thousands of miles from the surface of the sun.
Solar Flare

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Imaged a relatively small solar prominence on 6 April on the Estern Limb of the Sun. Imaging was accomplished using a Coronado 40 mm PST and a Image Source DMK 31 ccd camera.  12 Image captures (in AVI format) of 200 frames were performed at 5 minute intervals.  The AVI images were processed into Jpegs using RegiStax software.   Processing from start to finish was a 2 hour process.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010,  Main group of craters are Ptolemaeus (153 Km), Alphonsus (108 Km), Arzachel (97 Km), Hipparchus (150 Km) and Alpetragius (40Km).  Lunar surface imaged during daylight using a red filter, DMK 31 ccd camera and an 8 inch SCT.  200 frames combined and stacked using RegiStax software.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18 2010 For the 4th day this giant prominance has persisted. It is loaded with magnitized Plasma.  It streches more than 20 Earth diameters from end to end and Earth would fit through any of the Plasma gaps in the Prominence.  Imaged with a Coronado PST and DMK31 ccd camera. Processed 200 frames stacked and combined using RegiStax software.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Imaged a giant solar prominence this morning 0845 hrs and in the afternoon at 1450 hrs 16 March 2010. The top image is the 0845 image and the bottom the 1450 hrs image. The two images exhibit a noicable difference in shape  This giant arch is loaded with magnitized plasma. Image capture was accomplished using a Coronado PST and a DMK 31 ccd camera afocal to a 12.5 mm eyepiece.  300 frames stacked and processed using RegiStax software.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Solar Prominence March 11, 2010 imaging with Coronado 40mm PST and DMK31 ccd camera. 300 frames processed using RegiStax software.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

On September 2, 2009 Jupiter's moons did a vanishing act. The moons  Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto lined up in front of and behind the Giant planet.  The event was captured uning a 12" SCT, and a Meade LPI CCD camera.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A dark massive plasma filled filament appeared on the Suns surface March 9th 2010.  If and when it collapses and hits the Suns surface the impact could cause a powerful Hyder Flare.  A Hyder Flare is an intense brightening in the Suns chromosphere.  Hyder Flares are not usually associated with energetic particle emission or geomagenetic storms.  The image was capturred using a DMK 31 monochrome ccd camera and a Coronado 40 mm PST.  300 frames were processed and stacked using RegiStax software.

Messier 41, NGC 2287 (Tau Cma) lies at a distance of 2300 light years. It is approx 4 degrees south of the star Sirius and is composed of about 100 stars including several red giants the brightest of which is spectral class K3 it is 700 times more luminous than our sun.  The hottest star in the cluster is of spectral class AO. Hiding in the cluster are at least 2 White Dwarf stars. The age of the cluster is between 190 and 240 million years. It is moving away from us at 23.3 Km/s. The diameter of the cluster is 25 to 26 light years. The image was captured using a 12 " SCT,  DSI ll ccd camera and an f3.3 focal reducer.  Exposure time was 2 minutes seeing conditions were fair.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This morning 17 Feb 2010, imaged Solar Prominances using a Coronado PST and Neximage ccd camera afocal to 12.5 mm eyepiece. No filter, 150 images stacked and processed using RegiStax software.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feb 3 2010 11:30 Pcific standard time. Solar prominence captured using Coronado Personal Solar Telescope (PST). Image afocal to a 12.5 mm ocular and NexImage ccd camera. Image processing using RegiStax software, 100 images stacked and combined.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today 13 Jan 2010 I was able to image a large loop prominence on the Eastern limb of the Sun.  A Celestron Neximage solar system ccd camera was coupled afocal to a 12.5 mm eyepiece on my Coronado PST solar telescope.  Image processing was performed using RegiStax, 120 images were stacked and processed.. Seeing conditions were favorable with some intermittant cloud cover.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sun Spot # 1039 was imaged using a DMK 31 ccd camera owned by Steve Riegel. The camera was coupled to my 8 " SCT equipped with a Baader solar filter.  Steve and I were testing several other cameras made by different Mfgrs. The seeing conditions were not ideal for we were imaging through some light cloud cover.  The DMK 31 produced superior images in comparison to the other cameras.  The results are exhibited below.