It’s been a long time since the last update. I haven’t had much time for posting, or astroimaging, but I hope to improve both soon. I’ve just gotten back from the 2018 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) and Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in Suffern New York. Lots of ideas to think about and ways to improve my astroimaging processes.
If I had to decide, I’d say the main trend this year that I noticed was a move toward microcontrollers. The Raspberry Pi and other ARM microcontrollers showed up in a few forms controlling the mount, camera and guider. There were also some controllers using an embedded version of Windows 10, Windows 10 IoT (no longer called Windows Embedded).
The ARM based units require Linux software and communicate to equipment through INDI drivers. The Win 10 versions can use trimmed down versions of the usual Windows applications and communicate through ASCOM drivers.
Other talks included SpaceFab’s soon to be launched satellite (including “Space Selfies”); the recently launched NOAA GOES-R satellite; education outreach discussions; time-lapse photography of the night sky; NEOs – near earth objects and many other topics.
The old site has been replaced, as far as I plan to go for now. There were a few things on the old site that still got hits on searches, the La San Marco espresso machine and the Meade Autostar ratio calculator were the main two.
La San Marco
I gave away the La San Marco machine years ago. Originally I planned on restoring the machine, so I collected parts diagrams and other resources in preparation. Never did much with them though, but offered the resources to others from my page. I think I’ve offered them long enough now.
The Meade Autostar ratio calculator originally produced usable update images to send to the Autostar. That code stopped working when newer browsers came out. The same changes may have broken the ratio calculations. My confidence that the numbers would still be usable is low, so that page is gone.
I had a few other astronomy calculators such as eyepiece field of view. They may reappear at some point, but for now I don’t think many people will miss them.
All in all I feel confident that the new site is good enough that the old one has been taken down.
My wife and I traveled to Tennessee to see the August 21st, 2017 total solar eclipse. The eclipse was great, it was our first time in totality. The things I remember that stood out were; the cicadas all started their songs, the birds went back to their nests, the mosquitoes came out. During totality I could see Mars and Venus and I think I could see Mercury. I could even see the star Regulus next to the sun . The corona spread further from the sun than I’ve seen in any of the pictures taken. The entire visible horizon had the colors of sunset. It didn’t get very dark, just about twilight or so. I’m already looking forward to 2024.
I brought a very portable setup with me. I used a Baader Vario 60 telescope. Then, the mount was a Meade LXD55 mount. Finally, the camera was a monochrome Meade LPI-G with Baader solar continuum filter. There were some last minute glitches and some lessons learned for next time. The focus wasn’t perfect, but I’ve added a couple pictures taken with the setup anyway.
I’ve attended NEAIC for the last few years. It’s a great place to learn the details of astroimaging.
The Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) starts the day following the conference. NEAF is a great place to see upcoming gear and get those parts you never knew you needed. Don’t miss the chance to visit the solar observing setups on clear days. Also, the NEAF talks are great.
One current project is a motorized focuser for the Takahashi telescope. The focuser drives a stepper motor that controls focus. When the first focuser is complete I’ll make another for the Celestron scope.
I’ve been making progress. I installed the motor bracket on the Takahashi and tested the unit out. So, now I have to fit everything into the project box.