Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stars: an endangered species

Light Pollution is killing the stars.

A little melodramatic I know but so many urban dwellers have never seen the milkyway, something which up until the last 200 years or so(probably even less than that) was a common sight in our night skies.

There is an independent film coming out this summer called The City Dark

It looks at the problem of light pollution and the potential long term ramification it has on humans as well as other animals as we move towards a 24/7 global society.

The trailer seems interesting and I am looking forward to watching it.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bahtinov Mask

One of the biggest challenges I have faced with astrophotography is getting the correct focus.

In the past I have made a hartmann mask to help with focusing and had some success with it.

Recently I came across another focusing aid called a Bahtinov Mask which is similar in function to a Hartmann Mask but resolves some of the shortcomings.

I found a webpage which allows me to generate Bahtinov Masks for various sizes and with some trial and error was able to generate a mask for my DSLR.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Field of View templates

I have known about Ponoko for a while, but never had a burning (haha) desire or project that I felt was appropriate.

As an exercise I calculated the field of view for my 4 most used eyepieces for my three scopes (10.1" f4.5/C8/C5).  Unfortunately degrees doesn't really translate into "what can I see in this eyepiece" in my head very well.  A little googling got me a page which converted degrees to cm for the Pocket Sky Atlas (my main goto chart).  It happens to be .4991 cm per degree.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Barndoor First Light

This is a 5 minute exposure taken with my Canon Xsi on my barndoor mount.

 I finished the first iteration of my barndoor on Sunday night.

I ended up replacing the hinge because there was way too much play in my original hinge.
I am also going to replace my existing home-made ball mount.  It does not have nearly enough range to be really useful, but it should be functional enough for a few tests tonight.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Barndoor Construction photos

As promised here are some photos from the construction so far.

First thing I did was draw a line that was 11.43" long and an arc with a radius of 11.43" in Illustrator and printed it out on a regular piece of paper to use as a guide.
Arc template

Barndoor Mount Project

Ever since I heard about an inexpensive mount called a Barndoor or Scotch mount for taking wide field astronomical pictures, I have wanted to make one.

A recent trip to Klamath Falls and some subsequent observing has re-kindled my interest in astronomy, as a result last weekend I started building my own barndoor tracker.

There are dozens of pages related to barn door trackers on the web.
I wanted to keep my design simple and relatively math free so I went with a curved rod design much like this one

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Post!

My first post.

This is a blog where I intend to discuss amateur astronomy and my (mis) adventures therin.

I'll talk about projects, observing reports, other astronomy related (and not so related) subjects.

It will probably not get updated much but hey at least its a start.