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, 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.