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, 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