Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coulter Red HDR

Today I helped do some sidewalk astronomy at Rolling Oaks Mall in San Antonio. This is a image from that. Pictured is my Coulter Optical 10.1" Dobsonian I bought off craigslist 2 years ago.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Garner State Park Star Party - June 27

This weekend, my wife and I went to Garner State Park for a star party. We met with fellow members of the San Antonio Astronomical Association at Cracker Barrel at 151 and 410 around 9 AM in San Antonio. Then, we caravaned out HWY90 to Garner State Park. We arrived just before noon and set up camp. Once we got hot, we decided it would be nice to hop in the bed of a truck and go take a dip in the frio.

We enjoyed swimming, watching college kids get ticketed for drinking in the river, and watching two of the SAAA members on the rope swing. Once we were good and pruny we got out of the river, changed and drove into Leakey, Texas for some great Italian food.

After dinner, we drove back to the park and we set up our 16" Meade Lightbridge dobsonian telescope. I was able to use my gigapan to snap some wide angle views: (More Blog after Pictures)

Zoom in on these:

After dark, the public showed up for viewing. We kept the scope on the Ring Nebula for that. Then. around 11:30PM I was able to do some serious starhopping. With the help of my lovely wife, we starhopped to many objects. We saw M51, the Sunflower Galaxy, Owl Nebula, and more. I eventually turned in around 2:30am. Viewing was great. I got to bag about 13 objects off my Messier list I'm working on as part of the astronomy League's observing list.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Heat Shink on a Lightbridge by Meade a Marriage Made For the Stars

If you saw my previous website, Astronomer Matthew, then you know that I have a Meade 16 inch lightbridge dobsonian Telescope. I got that telescope in November of 2008. I think that it is a nice value. I know that it isn't a premium dobsonian like an obsession nor did I pay the price of an obsession. The lightbridge is a fairly good scope as it comes from Meade (we'll actually GSO, they make them for Meade, Zuhmell and Astro-Tech) However, there are a few modifications that make the scope even better.

For starters. I painted the tube rings with ultra flat black spray paint. This helps cut down on stray light coming in the tube. This is a simple modification, but I'd like to mention that I feel powercoating would be a better solution and wouldn't chip as the spray paint did. Meade ships the rings white. They are easily removed for painting.

Next, to make life a lot easier I recommend replacing knobs on the secondary housing with "bob's knobs" these are finger grip knobs that make it easy to adjust the secondary without any tools. The 16" already comes with finger knobs for the primary, and newer 10" and 12" scopes should be coming with them as well.

I also feel that a light shroud is a must, especially in light polluted skys. Keeping stary light out of the telescope helps improve contrast. I've seen a fellow lightbridge owner set up under a street light without a shourd it get some views, but those could have been dramaticlly better with the use of a shroud over the truss tube section. I currently use the Astrozap version of the shourd.

For transportation, I was able to modify my base to accept wheel burrow wheels to help move it. This helps when I can't park where I need to setup my scope.

One of the things I don't like was the fact that Meade sends these out with silver truss tubes... that was easily fixed by some heat shrink. I went to Altex in San Antonio, a computer supply store and bought black shrink wrap that was big enough to fit over the tube and just used a heat gun to apply and it worked like a charm. It is a shame that meade didn't think of doing this. It also prevents the poles from clanging around in the back of the car. I'm looking forward to using this mod in the winter when sometimes it is uncomforatable to move the scope because the metal is cold.

I also purchased a 8x50 finderscope from OPT on sale and I was able to add that to the lightbridge, increasing my starhopping ability. To counter weigh the finder scope I got some welding magnets from harbor freight tools.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Panoramic Star Party

Panoramic of McAllister Star Party

Above is a Panoramic I took using the Gigapan Developed by NASA and Google. I'll try to blog about this sometime soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

403 Mega Pixel View of Star Party at McAllister Park

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nebulas in the eye.

To start off my vision is blurry as I write this. So last Saturday I drove to Karnes City, TX to a star party with the San Antonio Astronomical Association. While driving I noticed some black dot floating around in my eye. I wasn't too concerned as I thought I might just have a speck of dust or something on the outside of my eye. But eventually I realized that the dot wasn't going away. So the next day I googled it and found out that it seems to be a fairly common thing, but get it checked out to make sure it isn't more serious. So Monday I made an appointment and today I went in and everything is normal. Apparently this happens as we get older. I'm only 24 so I didn't expect it.

As I write this my eyes are still all weird from the exam, but I'm looking forward to this evening at McAllister Park. I'm taking my 16" dobsonian out for a spin at McAllister Park to try ou the new Finderscope I added last night (Meade 8x50). I kept the original red dot finder on there for now eventually I'll add a Telrad base I really like the Telrad better. I have one already but would like another so I don't have to be rejusting each time. I currently have the Telrad mounted on my Coulter Optical 10.1"

My website is like Polaroid and Kodachrome...geocities??

So this is my first blog.. I do (or did) have a website devoted to my hobby of astronomy, however that will soon not exist. Unfortunately, earlier this week I logged in to my geocities.com account to update my astronomy site and there was a message to the effect that soon geocities.com will no longer be in around. Seems things are changing in 2009!

I'm truly sad that my http://geocities.com/astro2matt/ account might be moved to yahoo's recycling bin. Honestly I'm not clear on if it will be saved or when it will be trashed so I thought I'd give blogger.com a try. A good astronomer friend of mine has been using blogger for a while I encourage you to have a look at his site Rick's Wildly Successful Astronomy.