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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Messier 22 NGC 6656 is an elliptical globular cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius near the galactic bulge region. It is one of the nearest globular clusters to Earth at a distance of 10,600 light years. It spans 32 minutes of arc translating to a spatial diameter of approx. 99 light years. Thirty two  variable stars have been recorded in the cluster. It is a metal poor cluster and its light is limited by dust extinction. M22 is very unusual in that it is one of only four clusters that are known to contain a planetary nebula. The nebula, designated as GJJC1, is estimated to be a mere 6000 years old. Two black holes of approximately 10 to 20 solar masses have been discovered in the cluster. Interaction between the stars and the black holes could explain the unusually large core diameter. Image capture was with an 8 inch SCT and Canon T3/1100D DSLR. 14 x 1 minute exposures were processed using DSS. (click to enlarge).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Messier 17 NGC 6618 the Omega nebula is an emission nebula approximately 5000 to 6000 light years distant in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way galaxy. It is a region of star formation and shines by excited emission from high energy radiation of young stars. The nebula contains a large amount of dark obscuring material. The mass of gas is estimated to be about 800 times that of our Sun. The total gaseous cloud seems to extend some 40 light years and has a mass of 30,000 solar masses. An open cluster of 35 stars lies embedded in the nebulosity and is the cause of the gases of the nebula to shine. There are up to 800 stars in the nebula, 100 of spectral type earlier than B9 and 9 of spectral type O. It is one of the youngest clusters known with an age of just 1 million years. Image capture was with an 8 inch SCT and Canon T3/1100D (modified), 10 x 2minute exposures were processed using DSS and PSP9. (click to enlarge).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Messier 16 NGC 6611, the Eagle Nebula, is an emission nebula in the constellation of Serpens and lies at a distance of approximately 7000 light years. It is a region of active star formation. The tower of gas coming off of the nebula is about 9.5 light years or about 90 trillion kilometers long. The hottest stars within the nebula star cluster are 10,000 times brighter than our Sun. The giant pillars of gas and dust are 2-3 light years long and the entire nebula is 20 light years across. Hot new born stars illuminate the gas. The pillars of creation, dense molecular hydrogen and dust within the nebula is slowly evaporating under the glare of intense radiation from the massive stars that were recently born nearby. Image capture was with an 8 inch SCT and Canon T3/1100D DSLR. 8 raw frames and 3 dark frames were image processed using Deep Space Stacker. (click to enlarge)