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, January 21, 2015

Messier 31 NGC 224 is a galaxy in the constellation of Andromeda. It is a close neighbor at 2,538,000 light years. It is estimated that it contains 1 trillion stars and its age is 9 billion years. It is a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way and contains a concentrated bulge of matter in the middle surrounded by a disk of gas, dust and stars. It is more than 260,000 light years long, more than 2.5 times as long as the Milky Way. Though Andromeda galaxy contains more than a trillion stars our galaxy is more massive because it contains more dark matter. Messier 31 is one of more than 20 galaxies comprising the Local Group of galaxies. There are 2 other Messier objects both smaller dwarf elliptical galaxies seen in the photo, M37 and M110. These are small satellite galaxies gravitationally bound to the much larger M31 galaxy. They contain from 1 to10 percent of the mass of M31 and are a factor of 10 smaller in spatial extent.  Studies have indicated that there is an eclipsing Binary star system in M31. Measurements indicate that M31 is approaching the Milky Way galaxy at 300 kilometers per second. In about 5 billion years the two galaxies will collide (talk about a big bang,Yipe!). The image of M31 was captured by my friend Dave using a Sigma 170 - 500 F5.6 telephoto lens mounted on a Celestron CGEM hypertuned mount and a Canon T3i modified DSLR camera. Frames were 20 x 120" integration time  0.7 hours. Image processed using DSS software. (click image to enlarge).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Messier 1 NGC 1952, the Crab nebula, in the constellation of Taurus is a supernova remnant. It lies at a distance of 6500 light years and has a diameter of 11 light years. It was first discovered in July1054  by Chinese astronomers with the appearance of a new star. The new start was visible during daylight hours for 23 days. It is expanding at a rate of 1500 kilometers per second. Messier 1 is part of the Perseus arm of the Milky Way galaxy. At the center of the nebula the Crab pulsar, a neutron star, has a spin rate of 30.2 times a second. It emits pulses of radiation from Gama waves to Radio waves. Supernova 1054 was also assigned the variable star designation CM Tauri. The Crab nebula is situated only 1-1/2 degrees from the Ecliptic. There are frequent conjunctions and transits of planets as well as occultations by the Moon. Image capture was with an 8 inch SCT and Canon T3/1100D (modified) DSLR CCD camera. Exposure length at 2 minutes.