Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why start yet another blog?

There are millions of blogs out there on the intertubes. Astronomy blogs. Solar astronomy blogs. Mac solar astronomy blogs? The field begins to thin out there.

The purpose of my blog is to chronicle my adventures (warts and all) in solar astronomy from day one with a special emphasis on imaging in the OS X operating system. All that is still off somewhere in the future. I'm simply working on the look and feel of this blog right now. So many things left to do yet...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In the beginning

For some reason that I can't remember—it probably just popped into my head—I did a Google search for information on using my DSLR with a telescope on February 2nd, 2011. When I got to the Meade site I saw the link to "Coronado Solar Telescopes & Filters." That began three weeks of searching for info on solar 'scopes.

Why solar? Well, I spent years of my life as a vampire. I finally got back onto a daylight schedule. I'm not up at night and there's really only one thing to look at.

Based on my research, I came to the conclusion that Lunt had an edge on Coronado, particularly in regards to photography. I searched for the nearest Meade dealer and found Hands On Optics in Damascus, Maryland. I talked to Joe on the phone and he agreed with what I had already decided after a couple of weeks of reading: given my budget and needs the Lunt LS60Tha-B1200-FT was the glass slipper.

Joe goes out on the limb
A couple of weeks later I took a trip up to the store. Joe brought his personal telescope (the same model but with pressure tuning) to work so I could see what there was to see. It was a bit hazy but there were prominences and filaments plainly visible. That clenched it. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a decent afocal picture.

My new telescope order is sitting in the queue at Lunt as I type this. In a couple of months (hopefully) it will be here. I also ordered the solar finder and dovetail. As for the tripod, I had originally planned on buying a Meade DS-2000 but Joe talked me into a Celestron CG-5 instead. So much for my budget. But after observing with his personal telescope I had a feeling I'd need something stiffer because of all the trouble I had seeing something in the eyepiece.

The problem is that I'm extremely nearsighted. My glasses are about -16.00/-3.75 diopters (both lenses). Even with the highest index resin available today (I can't remember precisely but I think they're Seiko's 1.74) the distance between my cornea and the front surface of the lens is almost 20mm! I had to take my glasses off and substantially refocus to actually see the entire disc. Even then I was seeing reflections on the surface of the eyepiece. Obviously I'm going to need some sort of hood. Photography may be less of a problem than picking a suitable eyepiece.

We'll figure that out when my new telescope gets here. Later on I'll be thinking about the pressure tuning retro-fit, better imaging, etc...