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.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Double Cluster lies within the Perseus arm of the Milky Way galaxy however, our solar system resides in the inner part of the Orion arm. Therefore when we look at the double cluster we are looking through our local spiral arm and all the way through the next spiral arm outward from the galatic center.  The cluster is approximately 7000 light years distant and the two are separated from one another by a few hundred light years.  Each cluster contains a few hundred stars, harboring young super giant suns that are many thousands of times more luminous than our Sun.  It is an exceptional pair due to the large number of O and B class stars in each cluster.  The two star clusters  making up the Double Cluster are called NGC 869 (h Persei) and NGC 884 (chi Persei).  Image capture was accomplished using a 4 inch refractor of 900 mm focal length, and a Canon DSLR (modified) CCD camera. 4 raw data (unguided) exposures of 90 seconds each and a bias frame and a dark frame were combined and processed using Imasges Plus software.


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Bubble nebula NGC 7535 located in the constellation of Cassiopeia is 11,000 light years distant. The bubble was formed by gasses being compressed by strong stellar wind from massive star BD+602522 40 times as massive as our Sun and thousands of times more luminous.  As moving gas escapes the star it compresses surrounding gas into a shell. The shell consists of hydrogen oxygen and sulphur and is ionized by the radiation from BD+602522 causing it to glow. The bubble is approximately 6 light years in diameter.  BD+602522 is a Wolf-Rayet star in the end stages of its life. It emits fierce stellar winds in the order of 1500 Km per second. and the surface temperatures are approximately 30,000 to 60,000 degrees Kelvin. This image was captured by my fellow amatuer astronomer Gary Satterfield. Equipment used was an AT8RC/Canon 500D(modified), a hypertuned CGEM guided 21 frames ISO 800/7 minutes and 33 frames at ISO 1600, darks, flats and bias calibration frames. Processed in Images Plus 4.0 and CS2.  (Click to enlarge picture).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Messier 2 NGC 7089 Globular cluster is 37,500 light years distant and is 175 Ly in diameter. It is rich, compact and slightly elliptical. It is one of the larger and oldest globulars associated with the Milky Way Galaxy. It contains about 150,000 stars including 21 known variables.  Estimate the cluster is 13 billion years old as determined from its color magnitude diagram.  The brightest stars are red and yellow giants.  It is approaching us at a slow 5.3 Km/sec.  Image capture is with an 8"SCT and a Canon 450D (modified) DSLR CCD camera. Four 30 second exposures and a dark were pocessed and combined using Image Plus software.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Messier 15 NGC 7078 Globular cluster is 33,600 light years distant,  has a diameter of 18 arc minutes corresponding to a linear diameter of 175 Ly. Total visual magnitude is 6.2.  The overall spectral class is F3 or F4.  The cluster is approaching us at approx 107 Km/sec.  It is a very dense globular, the core is in the process of contraction "Core Collapse" which is common in the evolution of globulars. It has a large population of variable stars, 112 variables, one of which is a Cepheid type 2.  Image capture, using an 8" SCT and Canon 450D modified DSLR. 5 images at 30 seconds were combined and aligned using Image Plus software.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Messier 13 NGC 6205. The globular cluster in the Constallation of Hercules lies at a distance of approximately 25,000 light years.  It shines with a total light equivalent to a 6th magnitude star.  It has an angular diameter of 23 arc minutes corresponding to a linear diameter of approximately 145 light years.  In the central portion of the cluster it is estimated that there are one or two stars per cubic light year.  All of the stars in the cluster should be the same age, however it appears that during M13's journey around the Galaxy it picked up a field star.  This young blue star is of spectral class B2 and is tagged Bernard #29.  It has been verified by radial velocity measurements that the star belongs to the cluster.  The image was photographed using a 8 inch SCT and a Canon 450D (modified) DSLR, 4  60 second raw data exposures, a Bias and a dark and  post processing using Images Plus software.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Northeastern section of Mare Nubium (lower left) dominates the region with large craters Ptolemaeus (A-153 Km), Alphonsus (B-108 Km) and Arzachel (C-97 Km) that form a chain starting at the left middle of the photograph. Within crater Hipparchus is crater Horrocks (E) located near its northern eastern rim. Fault line Rupes Recta (F). Picture was taken on June 27 2012 using a Celestron OMNI XLT 102ED (4 inch) Refractor and a Canon 450D DSLR CCD Camera.  Exposure time 1 second at ISO 100. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On 5 June 2012 one of the rarest astronomical events took place, the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun.  The duration of the event was slightly over 6 hoursThe planet traverses the solar disk at approximately 4 arc minutes per hour. This event won't happen again until the year 2117. I was able to capture the first 3 hours of the transit until weather intervened.  Twenty five (25) images were taken at random intervals during the 3 hour period and were post processed using regiStax software to create a mosaic of the event. Capture was with a Celestron XLT 102 4 inch refractor equipped with a Baader filter and a DMK31 CCD camera.

Monday, June 4, 2012

On 20 May there was a annular solar eclipse. My observing site limited capturing total annularity due to obstructions at low elevation angles.  Was able to capture part of the eclipse.  The mosaic below exhibits the extent of capture. Capture was accomplished using a Samsung P100 CCD camera coupled afocal to a 26 mm ocular on an 8 inch SCT equipped with a Baader solar filter. (White Light).

Monday, May 7, 2012

A very large sunspot group emerged from the Eastern limb of the Sun, AR1476.  The 4 dark cores are larger than the Earth.  It is more than 100,000 kilometers end to end.  It is crackling with M-class flares and based on its complex magnetic field there is a good possibility of X-class flares in the coming days.  The first image is in Hydrogen Alpha light taken with a 40mm PST and DMK31 CCD camera. The second image is in White light taken with a solar filter equipped 8 inch SCT and Dmk31 CCD camra.

Monday, April 16, 2012

On 16 April a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) occurred. The image below exhibits a massive eruption ejecting high energy particles into space.  CME's release huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation the ejected material is a plasma consisting of high energy protons and electrons and other materials. The CME was not directed toward Earth.  Additionally a large solar flare was active at the same time as the CME.  Image capture was with a Coronado 40mm PST and DMK 31 ccd camera. Image processed with RegiStax softwase.  (Click to enlarge)


Solar Flare

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lunar crater Copernicus is 93 Km in diameter and 3.8 Km in depth. The central peaks rise as high a 1.2 Km above the floor of the crater. The peaks are partially composed of the Mafic form of Olivine a magnesium iron silicate. The Crater is relatively young approximate 800 million years old. The floor of the crater does not appear to be filled by lava flood.  There are visible arc shaped landslides due to slumping if the inner walls. Crater rays spread as far as 800 Km across the surrounding Mare. Image capture was with a 12 inch SCT and a DMK31 ccd camera. 160 frames of 200 frames were processed using RegiStax software.

A massive solar prominence erupted during January. 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 particles of electrons and protons and other materials.  Image capture was accomplished with a PST and DMK31 ccd camera. 180 frames out of 300 were processed using RegiStax software.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Messier 42 Great Nebula in the constellation of Orion.  Distance approximately 1000 light years. The nebula is a stellar nursery where new stars are being born.  M42 is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible with the naked eye.  The nebula is approximately 24 light years across and has a mass 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Study of the nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing gas and dust. The first image is composed of 4 raw Images combined and image processed.  Each of the images are 40 seconds in duration. The second image is in an un-processed form.  Image capture was accomplished using a 12" SCT, a Canon 450D DSLR and a 6.3 visual  focal reducer. Exposure time 40 seconds. (clik to enlarge).