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.

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.