Preface

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, December 3, 2013

 
Great nebula in the constellation of Orion. It is the closest region to Earth of massive star formation,approximately 1325 light years. It is 24 light years across and has a mass 2000 times that of our Sun.  It is mainly composed of ionized hydrogen. The energy to keep the nebula glowing comes from very hot young stars in a formation called the Trapezium embedded in the bright part of the nebula. There are also supersonic bullets piercing the Hydrogen clouds of the nebula. Each bullet is 10 times the diameter of the orbit of Pluto and are tipped with Iron atoms glowing bright blue. They were formed some 1000 years ago from an unknown source.  The image was captured using an 8" SCT, Canon T3i DSLR and image processed using Deep Sky Stacker software. 8 raw images at ISO 3200, 2 Darks, with each exposure  35 seconds unguided. (click to enlarge).