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, 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.