Sunday, June 14, 2020

     After getting a new Losmandy bar last week for the Meade 10" f/10 I managed to remove the optical tube assembly of the Meade from its old fork mount and transfer it to the CGE mount. 

     The CGE has been interesting to use.  I'm learning how to use the Nexstar controller and align the scope without having to sync the starting position (which fails due to some weird switch wiring error from the previous owner's work on the RA and Dec cables).  When it works it is pretty convenient, though sometimes it seems to come up with a bad global pointing solution from the two star plus a few extra star alignment and clearing it out requires starting over or just bypassing it using another way to goto, which I found last night, of using "precision goto" which uses a reference star near the object you are looking for to basically star hop to the object.  I ordered a computer cable and may try running the mount from the laptop next week to see if that gives me more options.  I purchased a tele-compressor for the Meade and I think I like it for visual use.  It is nice to have the wider field of view.

Last night was spent looking at M13, M3, M5, M4, M57, M92, M27, Jupiter, and Saturn with the f/6.3 focal length from the tele-compresssor.  Nice to be able to see them from town.  The trees messed with the alignment star choice though and while at first I got an ok alignment (~0.5 deg off) a later attempt to improve the alignment just made it worse. If I move the telescope to the observatory I'll have a much better horizon to work with. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

We used the 6" f8 refractor on the CGE mount to look at Arcturus, M3, and M13.  The got worked well except for power outages due to the poor power cord - a new one is on the way with a screw down plug which should fix accidental cutoffs.  The ground connection still needs improvement.  I still have not ordered a new battery or DC supply to run the telescope.  The fact that the scope does well so far may make that purchase more urgent.  It is nice to have the scope working as well as it does.

During the telescope set up the puppies were born. Shadow had 3 black and 1 brown puppy in the early evening. 

I also removed the IR cut filter from the old Nikon D70. This was easier to do than expected, but the focus at infinity is unreachable now for at least some of the Nikon lenses.  On a telescope it is not a problem, but I may have to try a replacement filter if I want to do wide field H-alpha exposures with a camera lens. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I've been reviewing my start atlases to see which ones are most useful.  I also purchased The Astrophotography Sky Atlas by Charles Bracken while considering using the CGE mount to do astrophotography with an DSLR piggybacked on the telescope.  Bracken's atlas is interesting but exasperating at the same time.  I think it is the self publishing aspect of the atlas which stands out when you examine the charts.  In contrast to the wonderfully designed Pocket Sky Atlas the charts are hard to read at a glance.  The labels are not on both sides of the chart and star labels are pale grey where they exist at all.  The color choices are shades of magenta and most of the smaller objects are not scaled up enough to be distinguishable from stars which makes figuring out what the large labels refer to hard when you  don't know which dot-like thing it is labeling.  On the other hand the tables are quite nice, but if it were merely tables you could transfer them to a spreadsheet so it was the combination of charts and tables that ought to be better thought out in the work.  The charts are, as best I can tell, computer generated by the author and the book really needs a graphic designer and printer's touch.  Nice and useful, but it could be better.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

I've pulled the Celestron CGE out of storage.  After buying it on Cloudy Nights as a non-working mount a couple of years ago, the covid lockdown has given me more time at home to mess with it.  It turns out that the mount powers up and with hand controller works fine, but the limit switches are not working or at least are not recognized on startup.  I discovered that this is fairly easy to bypass though: Press "enter" to begin startup.  Interrupt the start up slew before mount hits anything by pressing any of the four arrow keys on the hand controller. Position the mount at the correct switch position as best as possible manually. Now hit "undo" to accept the switch position as valid.  From this point on the mount acts normally and you can finish the initialization process.  Now you have goto and access to the catalog data in the handset.  A few caveats, I would not try a slew to anything below the horizon (remember the limit switches are not going to save you) and tracking near zenith needs to be watched as well since the switches won't stop the clock drive from running the mount into itself if you go through the meridian.  All in all I'm happy with this.  While I try to figure out the underlying issues with the switches I can still use the mount. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Moon

Sunday, August 26, 2012


William Grayson Shaw at 7 weeks

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Milky Way north of the Sagittarius star cloud with M11 at top and M16/M17 near the lower left.

Labels: , , , ,

The northern milky way is fascinating, but less photogenic than the Sagittarius star clouds. Dark lanes criss-cross the region. This was taken with a 50 mm f1.4 Nikkor lens stopped down to f2 or f2.8 attached to an SBIG STL6303e CCD camera and a Meade goto mount for tracking. Processed in Photoshop CS4.