Saturday, May 21, 2011

So close and yet so far

Since my last entry I've found out how to lock the focuser (the screw was left out at the factory and stuck in a hole in the case foam). I've also gotten a newer laptop with a bigger screen. Despite all this a sharp focus still eludes me:

The imager in this DSLR is simply too big and I'm not resolving much fine detail. I'm too wiped out financially for a proper camera at the moment.

Everything looks fabulous through the eyepiece, of course.

Friday, May 13, 2011

On a clear day...

Wednesday turned out to be one of the clearest days I've seen in a long time. Viewing was great but I'm still not getting very good exposures with my XT1i. I can't see anything in this image except three sunspots and the illumination is still not even:

Click to enlarge

Here's an earlier image re-processed. Still not quite there:

Click to enlarge
I'm seeing a lot more detail by eye. I'm already in need of a better imager. This DSLR isn't cutting it.

There's one trick I haven't tried yet: Controlling the camera remotely with a laptop. I guess I'll try that next as soon as it stops raining.

Naturally I got another HDR shot of my 'scope:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day two—some success

The skies were very clear today, which gave me plenty of time to work out a lot of variables. I finally got the mount oriented correctly and the scope mounted properly. The tracking is off a bit but it's close enough for now.

As soon as I got it focused there was plenty to see. Lots of action on the limb with a big prominence that turned into a loop. A nice filament, some spots—all without even tuning the etalon! The detail really popped out with the 5mm eyepiece. I could clearly see the granulation.

I had plenty of time to fool around with my camera, which is a good thing because I couldn't make out anything on the LCD on the back. I finally resorted to putting a blanket over my head so that I could see the display more clearly but it didn't help all that much. I focussed it as close as I could and bracketed like mad. I managed to get some decent images but they don't show as much detail as I could see with the naked eye:

Click to enlarge

The illumination isn't even across the field. I noticed that while I was taking pictures and you can clearly see it here.

Best of all, there was crew here replacing the gutters. A couple of them took a look and were blown away. There's nothing more fun than showing off. I'll pounce on the neighbors as soon as they get home.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lunt solar telescope—Day One

I picked up my new Lunt LS60THa/B1200FT solar telescope from Hands On Optics Saturday. The clouds started to lift a bit today so I had the pleasure of figuring out how to put everything together a Celestron CG-5 mount for the first time while worrying about seeing. Here it is all set up:

Click to enlarge

I managed to get in a few peeks but not one decent picture. Just as I was setting the shutter speed a big cloud moved in. I never ever got around to playing with the etalon.

I also never did get it leveled right, the counterweight seems a bit too heavy, there's a lot of play in the gears and I've got the mount pointed south instead of north. It looks like there's a few bugs I'll have to iron out. Oh, I forgot to get an A/C adapter, too.

Clear skies tomorrow. Maybe I'll get some pictures. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mystery laser device

I just acquired a very peculiar laser:

I guess somebody thought it would look cool.

It was a shame to have to disassemble it but I wanted the laser for my collection:

It was actually well-built. The frame is made of aluminum angle bolted together. Underneath all that duct tape and aluminum tape there was a good sized Melles-Griot head and a high-power laser supply. To top it off, the PanaVise it's mounted on came with it! Quite a bargain at <$75. Hamfest pricing. The vise and the head are each easily worth that and the power supply would go for at least $100. Too bad I was the only person who bid on it. You snooze you lose.