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.