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.

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)