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.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Messier 46 NGC 2437 is an open cluster in the constellation of Puppis. It is 5400 light years distant with an estimated age of 100 million years. The planetary nebula NGC 2438 appears to lie within the cluster near the Northern edge but it is most likely unrelated since it does not have the same radial velocity as the cluster. It is a rich cluster with 150 stars of magnitude 10-13. The cluster population is over 500 stars. The brightest of the stars are of spectral class A0 and each about 100 times more luminous than our Sun.  The cluster distance is 5400 light years and is receding from us at 41.4 Km/second. The nebula is  receding at 77 Km/second. The planetary is only about 2900 light years from the cluster  which means the planetary is a foreground object.  Planetary nebulas are only visible for a short time and fade quickly; only visible for a few 10,000 years before the material has dissipated into surrounding space. Image capture was with a Meade 8 inch SCT and Canon T3/1100D DSLR. 12 raw frames and 3 dark frames were converted stacked and combined using Deep Space Stacker software. 

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