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.

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.