Preface

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 22, 2011

Some facts about the planet Jupiter. It is the 4th brightest object in the sky.The planet is about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium, by number of atoms,75/25% by mass with some methane, water, amonia and rock. It is very close to the composition of the primordial solar nebula from which the entire solar system was formed. Above Jupiter's core lies the bulk of the planet in the form of liquid metalic hydrogen. Liquid metalic hydrogen consists of ionized protons and electrons,it is similar to the suns interior exept for the temperature and pressure. Its interior is a liquid not a gas. It is however an electrical conductor and is the source of the planets magnetic field. Image capture was accomplished using an 8 inch SCT and a DMK31 ccd camera. The best 160 frames out of 500 frames were processed using RegiStax software.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trifid Tripple Threat: The massive star factory known as the Trifid Nebula, which gets its name from the dark dust bands that trisect the glowing heart is a rare combination of three nebula types. The bluish patch is a reflection nebula where dusty gas scatters the light from the nearby Trifid born stars. Below the pink redish area is typical of emission nebula caused by the gas at the Trifid's core being heated by hundreds of scorching young stars until it glows in the red light typical of hydrogen. The gas and dust that criscross the Trifid nebula makes up the third kind of nebula in the cosmic cloud known as dark nebula because of their light obscuring effects.
Image captured by my friend Gary on May 29th 2011 with an AT8RC and Hypercams modified Canon 500D riding on an auto guided hyper tuned Celestron CGEM mount. A total of 4 x 10 minute frames @ ISO800 were dark frame calibrated in Image Plus and after initial adjustments transferred to CS2 for final tweaks. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On 25 September there was strong solar activity with sun spot AR1302. It has unleashed 2 X class flares since Sept 22nd and appears to be ready for more. The active region has a Beta-gamma-Delta magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M and X class eruptions.
Flares from 1302 will become increasingly geoeffective as the sunspot turns toward earth in the days ahead. Image capture was by an 8" SCT equipped with a Baader solar filter and a DMK31 ccd camera. 200 of 1000 frames were processed using RegiStax software.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On 18 Sept was able to image an array of active sunspots, Ar 1289, AR 1295 and AR1296. A considerable number of flares, CME's and other magnetic activity emmanated from these sun spots. Image capture was accomplished using an 8" SCT and a 4" SCT equipped with a Baader solar filters and a Image Source DMK31 ccd camera. 240 frames of 1000 frames were processed using RegiStax 6.0 software. (Click on images to enlarge).

4" SCT

8" SCT

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31st, there are 3 extremely large sunspots transiting the sun's northern hemisphere. They are the largest display since 2006. Spot 1261 is very active. The group has a magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. On Aug 2nd spot 1261 unleashed an M-1 class solar flare of extreme UV radiation. At the same time it hurled a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) almost directly at Earth. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME hits on Aug 5th. In the image below spot 1261 is the one on the left of the frame and it is also exhibited in the second frame. 1263 is the spot on the right. Spot 1263 is the third image spot 1260 is the 4th image and is also exhibited in white light. The images were captured with a Coronado 40 mm PST and DMK 31 ccd camera in H-a light and an 8" SCT with a Baader filter for white light. Images were processed using RegiStax 6.0 (Click on image to enlarge)




Sunday, May 1, 2011

Prominences extend outward from the Sun's surface and are often loop shaped. They are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere and extend outward into the Sun's corona. They are held above the surface by strong magnetic fields. Prominences are cooler plasma (ionized gasses) than the coronal plasma. Sometimes a prominence will break apart and become a Coronal Mass Ejection(CME). CME's release huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation into space. The ejected material is a plasma consisting of high energy particals of electrons and protons and other materials. If a prominence is viewed from the perspective of the Suns surface instead of against space it is known as a solar filament. A Prominence can reach heights of hundreds and thousands of miles above the surface. At times they spew enormous amounts of solar material into space. The image below was obtained using a Coronado 40mm PST and a DMK 31 ccd camera. 200 frames were processed using Registax and Gimp software.







Saturday, March 26, 2011

At the northern edge of Mare Imbrium crater Plato is the crown in the band of mountains dividing Mare Frigoris (Above crater Plato) from Mare Imbrium. At the lower right craters Archimides, Autolycus and Aristillus mark the area where in 1959 Russia's unmanned Luna 2 became the first craft from Earth to reach the moon's surface. At extreme left the distinctive semi circle known as Sinus Iridium (bay of rainbows) is eye capturing. Mons Pico ascends approximately 1.5 miles above the Mare floor from its base of 10 by 15 miles. Click image to enlarge.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The double cluster in Perseus NGC 884 & 869 lie at a distance of 7600 and 6800 light years. They are separated from one another by a few hundred light years. The clusters are blue shifted and are approaching Earth at 22 kilometers per second. The hottest main sequence stars are of spectral class B0. Each cluster contains luminous class A, B, and O supergiants. Some of the stars have matured to class M Red supergiants. The age of the clusters, based on their individual stars, are young. NGC 869 is 5.6 million years old and NGC 884 is 3.2 million years old. The image was captured using a SCT converted into a Schmidt camera, a DSI 2 ccd camera and a 20 minute exposure. Some image processing was performed.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sun spot AR1166 is many times larger than Earth. Its magnetic field has potential for X class solar flares. The image is a composite of the sun spot and a flare that was hovering above. The images were taken in Hydrogen alpha light through some high thin cirrus clouds which obscured the flares origin but it appears to have emmanated from spot 1166. On March 3rd 2011 Image capture was accomplished using a Coronado 40mm PST and Image Source DMK 31 ccd camera. Image processed with RegiStax software.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jupiter is usually dominated by two dark cloud belts in its atmosphere, one in the North and one in the South. Early in 2010 the Southern equatorial belt disappeared. This phenomenon of losing a belt every 10 to 15 years is a mystery. The clouds on Jupiter are created by chemicals forming at different altitudes. The white clouds are made up of frozen crystals of ammonia. The dark clouds from sulphur and phosphorus. Jupiter's atmosphere is mostly molecular hydrogen and helium. Other chemical compounds are present in small amounts and include methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and water. Other gasses, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and noble gas are in abundance in the atmosphere.
It appears that the southern equatorial belt is slowly returning. The first photo exhibits both of Jupiter's belts. The second photo exhibits the southern belt faded away and the third photo (10 Jan 2011) exibits what appears to be the beginning of the southern belts return. Seeing conditions were not very favorable, Images were captured with an 8" SCT and DMK 31 ccd camera.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crater Schiller is an odd shaped crater located in the Southeastern sector of the moon. The long axis is 112 miles in length running Northwest to Southeast It is a well defined crater with a terraced inner wall. The crater floor is flat due to lava flooding. The loftiest section of the crater wall rises 13,000 feet above the interior. Schiller appears to be a fusion of two or more craters. Imaged with a 8" SCT and DMK 31 ccd.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

On 31 Dec 2010 I imaged Messier 42, the great nebula in Orion. M42 (NGC 1976) is a bright diffuse nebula that is visible to the naked eye at dark sites. It is the closest region of massive star formation. I used my Meade 8 inch SCT and DSI 2 ccd camera. Since the SCT's focal length is F#10 and narrow field I converted the SCT into a Schmidt Camera by fabricating a fixture to take the place of the SCT's secondary mirror. The fixture accomodates the ccd camera. This then, changed the Field of View from 10 arc minutes to approximately 51 arc minutes. The image below is a 2 minute exposure. I know there are fixtures manufactured and for sale on the market but this was an experiment (at the cost of a few $$) to satisfy my curiosity about widening the telescopes field of view and in affect making the scope a faster system.