After almost five months I was able to travel to my observatory in Southern Spain, due to travel restrictions we had to stay within our province here in Spain in the Andalucia region. It was a real pleasure to see that no damage to the equipments, especially after having really stormy weather during this time. After cleaning the inside of the dome, everything worked fine, just SGP software subscription that needs update.
I received my new telescope around six months ago, but I have had little time to take pictures of the telescope inside the dome.
But I do have some images unpacking it when it was delivered.
The telescope is a RH Veloce 250, design which allow a fast F/Ratios with high definition over a wide and flat focal plane. It offers a pinpoint star all over the FOV..
New Scope : The Stellarvue SVX130T
The Company has currently have completed a number of 130 apo triplet objectives at better than .99 Strehl.
Air-spaced lenses that are 5" and larger are often mounted in aluminum cells. These cells expand and contract many times more than the glass. The larger the lens is, the more important it is to have it mounted in a cell with a similar coefficient of expansion (CTE). LZOS in Russia has always provided their 130 mm and larger lenses in a steel cell for this reason. Many other 127 - 130 mm refractors use simple aluminum cells which expand and contract around the glass many times more than our cells, distorting the image. Using a material that closely approximates the expansion and contraction rate of the glass is heavier and much more expensive, but it maintains the performance of the lens despite dropping temperatures.
What is the Gibraltar Amateur Astronomers Society, and who was it founded by?
After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Astronomy, I decided to create the GAAS back in 2013 with the help of a small group of fellow astronomers. The aims were and are to provide a forum for discussion of astronomy matters and share knowledge, as well as to meet other fellow stargazers, whether just getting started in astronomy or as a seasoned observer and/or astrophotographer. It’s also a great way to learn about telescopes, eyepieces, cameras, and the Universe.
How many members are there? When/where do you meet? What do you do?
Since its founding in 2013, membership in the society has been limited to members interested in astrophotography, and currently, we meet in Spain at least once a month. We have a Facebook page of nearly 700 followers, and Facebook groups of over 2000 members. I would like to establish a club locally to develop and create awareness of the sky above us, bring together local people from our community to share our passion for astronomy and the wonders of the Universe. I receive many requests from local parents asking how their children can join the society, but without premises, it’s difficult.
I REMEMBER THE EXCITEMENT I FELT SEEING IT.
When did your interest in astronomy begin?
When I was in school from a very young age, I was interested in all kinds of science things. There weren’t many books on astronomy at the time, but I read all the ones in John Mackintosh Hall library. TV series like Star Trek and Lost in Space when I was growing up did influence me quite a bit. I do remember the first trips that were made into space, like the Gemini and Apollo missions. It wasn’t until later in life when I could afford a telescope, that I saw for the very first time a close-up of the Moon; I remember the excitement I felt seeing it.
What do you love most about it?
I had to think about this for a long time. But I think the best thing is being able to share what I have learned about the Universe with others and enjoy their enthusiasm and amazement.
What has been the most significant/exciting discovery, in your opinion?
There have been many significant discoveries, mostly in the past fifty years. Still, I will stick with last year’s breakthrough and one in particular, which proves a theory going back decades. I am talking about the first image of a black hole, taken using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87, published in April. This shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, which is about 54 million light-years away from Earth. The black hole’s mass is equivalent to 6.5 billion suns.
Scientists struggled for decades to capture a black hole on camera to prove it exists, since black holes distort space-time, ensuring that nothing can break free of their gravitational pull — even light. That’s why the image shows a shadow in the form of a perfect circle at the center.
How do you see our knowledge of the skies advancing over the next decade?
In the next decades, we will see a global competition between nations and the private sector to reach the Moon and Mars to establish colonies within the next twenty years. India will send astronauts into space in the next few years. Late this year ESA with Roscosmos aims to discover life in Mars. SpaceX by 2024 plan to send a crewed spacecraft to Mars. China expects a spacecraft landing on the far side of the Moon. We mustn’t forget the USA and Russia, whose sole interest is in the Moon’s minerals.
Would you take part in the Mars mission, given the opportunity?
Sure, wouldn’t you? I can picture a special tour: First a stop on the Moon, wearing spacesuits and exploring all its splendor. Second stop, Mars. There are lots of places to visit there — the Grand Canyon of Mars, the ice caps, strolling along in the morning in the ice fog. Our imagination has no limits. Even if there are no tour ships yet, it will come, but we will need to wait for some years before this is a reality. I would also like to mention that space is a dangerous place, from cosmos radiations to super-speedy dust grains that can damage spacecrafts and astronauts, to gravitation forces that affect our bodies.
WE WILL SEE A GLOBAL COMPETITION BETWEEN NATIONS TO REACH THE MOON AND MARS.
How much of the observable Universe do we know about? What is it comprised of? What do you think lies beyond?
Ahh, the million-dollar question. Of the many ideas that have been discussed over time, the one theory that I feel is most likely is that outside this Universe, there are a bunch of others all expanding just like ours, or contracting.
The Universe is expanding. Space itself is expanding. That much we know from the cosmic redshift of distant galaxies in every direction and which is measurable. The fact it is expanding means it was once smaller, and carrying that to its finality is to recognise that it must have at some point been unified in some form or way. Although I have read a lot about this subject, there is no concrete answer yet.
Now, to make everybody aware of how little we know about the Universe. All the stars, planets, and galaxies that can be seen today make up just 4% of the Universe. The other 96% is made of stuff astronomers cannot see, detect, or even comprehend.
What planets/constellations are best seen from Gibraltar/Spain, and in what spots?
Gibraltar’s uniqueness makes it difficult for seeing. We have a big rock and quite a lot of light pollution, and there are only a few places you can appreciate the cosmos with your naked eye; one spot is on the top of the rock, but only if you’re lucky. Remember the night sky changes throughout the year and constellation position changes as well. If you look towards the North (North Star-Polaris) you will see Constellations like Perseus, Cepheus, and a few others rotating around Polaris. Spain is a vast country, and there are quite a lot of pitch-dark sites nearby. My observatory, for example, is in Istan (Malaga) mountainside with a night sky reading of 21 SQM.
What equipment would one need? Or where can we borrow it/use someone else’s?
The simple answer is minimal to get started. A clear night and a star chart are enough. Star charts can be bought from most of the larger book shops online, such as WH Smith. As you gather sky knowledge, buy a reasonably low budget telescope with a GOTO mount. This will be your starting point, and remember, do not run before walking, or it will cost you eventually.
Do you have a favourite constellation?
Not sure, I suppose Orion given its spectacular colorful nebule images once processed. I have been observing and imaging the night sky for years. For me, the Universe is my favorite space.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in getting into the field of astronomy?
Amateur astronomy should be calming and fun. If you find yourself getting wound up over your eyepiece’s aberrations or a planet’s invisibility, take a deep breath and remember that you are doing this because you enjoy it. Take it only as fast or as slow, as intense or as easy, as is right for you.
I purchased the Flip-Flat for my FSQ-106 and like it a lot. It’s well-made, and it's a necessary for my camera images, thou I found the included plastic strap for mounting is a bit loose, I can replaced it with a large metal “hose clamp.” if necessary. Using with SGP for automation while I sleep, it’s very handy that it will record flats and close to cover the scope at the end of the night. As others have said, I don’t trust it for bias or darks in daylight, because it seems light will leak in, so I simply record those with the camera unmounted and capped during the night.
This equipment can be a bit over prices I disagree that it is a luxury item... any more than filters, reducers/correctors or PixInsight.
Good quality flats are a requirement and anything that makes taking good flats consistent and reliable is worth every penny. Look at the hundreds of posts on CN about problems processing lights with flats, the majority of which have to do with the quality of the flats in the first place. High quality, astro-dedicated like the Flip Flat eliminate that problem. iPads, cheap LED panels from Amazon and the like are NOT valid substitutes.
Observatories/ Sheds are highly individualistic; they reflect the interests, equipment, and personalities of their owners. Unfortunately, this also means that one individual's dream observatory might be a white elephant for someone else. As a result, the more specific observatory plans become, the less useful they are.
To store my telescope I used PVC/Aluminium walls with an insulation foam between the internal and outside walls. to move the shed I connected four wheels with brakes, the front of the shed has a rolling shatter that lifts with a cable, this way its easy to just move back the shed from the semi-fixed mount/telescope.Having the shed will safely guard my equipment from the elements better than the previous telescope covered that I had
I've been using my ASI1600MM for last month or so, along with the PixInsight BatchPreProcessing script.
I've read multiple posts to try to understand what should be the proper settings, and at this stage my conclusions are:
1- All exposures should be longer than 0.2 seconds, as the sensor is not consistent under that.
2- Take light frames as usual, at lowest temperature reasonable (-15C for me these days), with proper gain and offset (gain 200 and offset 50 for me, as I do narrowband), and for me exposures are determined using help from the tables in this post.
3- Take matching dark frames: same length, same gain, same offset, same everything as the lights.
4- Take flat frames: adjust gain as needed so that exposures of over 0.2s are achieved, giving a SGP ADU readout of around 12,000-16,000
5- Take dark flat frames: same gain and offset as the flat frames, and same length. For me, this means one set of dark flats per filter.
6- No bias frames
7- In BPP, put Dark Frames in Darks, Dark Flat frames in Darks, nothing in Bias, Lights in Lights, Flats in Flats. Dark Optimization set to OFF. What I understand this does is:
a. Create a master dark of same length as light frames
b. Create a master dark flat of same length as flat frames, for each filter
c. Flat frames for each filter are calibrated with the master dark flat that corresponds to the length of each filters' flat exposure
d. Flat frames for each filter are calibrated into a master Flat
e. Light frames are calibrated with Master Dark (from step a.) and Master Flat (for each filter)
f. Light frames are star aligned/registered
g. Light frames are integrated into a Master Light
8- If needed, manually perform a drizzle or Local Normalization integration
For flats I am using a technique using the daylight instead of a light panel, tests have proven that the quality is much better then a light panel, and its easy to do.
Cover the telescope, Filter Wheel and camera to avoid light penetration to the sensor.
CMOS sensors have undergone significant upgrades in recent years, in many cases surpassing CCD sensors. Their high speeds (frame rate) and resolution (number of pixels), their low power consumption and, most recently, their improved noise characteristics, quantum efficiency, and color concepts have opened them up to applications previously reserved for CCD sensors.
The improvements to CMOS technology and the strong price/performance ratio in these sensors make CMOS sensors increasingly attractive for industrial machine vision. In particular, the very high frame rates that can be achieved, almost without any compromise in image quality, are one of the primary hallmarks of the current generation of CMOS.
CMOS development over taking CCD
There are two types of image sensors for industrial cameras on the market: CCD and CMOS sensor. The right sensor for any given job is a case-by-case question. At the same time, the trend seems to be toward CMOS sensor technology as the wave of the future. This should come as no surprise, as CMOS sensors have made major strides in recent years in two important parameters for area and line scan cameras, namely image rate and noise level. Since the beginning of 2015, it has become official that CMOS technology will be the future technology.
My New CMOS Camera
My new mount 10Microm GM2000 replaces my old AP 1100, my motivation for the upgrade grew out of the realization that my astrophotography quality needed a with dual decodes which lack the replaced mount. Two things matter to me: avoiding wasted time during an overnight session (caused either by images thrown away due to tracking errors or by time spent repeatedly trying to properly frame the desired variable star), and image quality (which affects photometric – brightness measurement – accuracy). This is a personal expression, but never got the reliability to the point where I could trust it to work during unattended overnight sessions.
What made the GM2000 so attractive is that it uses absolute encoders on both the declination and RA axes, which virtually eliminates periodic error. The company claims that tracking error is routinely less than 1 arcsecond, What appealed to me is that 10Micron doesn't sell any version of the GM2000 without absolute encoders, which has permitted them to optimize the entire control system around the use of the encoders.
Installing the GM2000 onto my pier was straightforward, just requiring a few holes and bolts. The most difficult part of the installation was wrestling the 30 KM of mount up onto the pier. The image below is a picture showing the new mount, telescope, and camera.
It then took a couple of weeks to finish upgrading my software to handle the computer interface to the GM2000 and to build a "mount model" in the GM2000 firmware.
To build a mapping points model there are third parties software , this are ModelCreator or Mount Wizzard. It a be tricky to setup the communication channel , but once you connect it a great program.
The firmware has a very nice polar alignment tool, eventually 5 arcseconds away from perfect.
This time I used Polemaster to assist me , thou you need first to do a three stars alignment followed by the polar alignment and if you use the mount PL you would need again to do the three stars alignment.
The general "feel" of the mount is wonderful. The GM2000's firmware seems solid. When you execute a goto, the mount does it quickly and accurately, the same every time. When things go wrong, you don't need to cycle power to get the mount working normally again; instead, just fixing the problem makes the mount happy again.
The mount performs "two-axis tracking," with both the declination and RA motors involved in the tracking process. The mount's pointing model is translated by the firmware into both a declination tracking rate and a RA tracking rate. Thus, the two-axis tracking is able to compensate for all of the known elements of small misalignment. I've run the mount last week for the first time given that when setting up the connection to SGP it platesolving was not aligned with the mount RA/DEC coordination. The issue was the mount software memory stick firmware version, thinking that it was latest in reality its was old, quite old (1.22) when the current update with 1.5. After realizing this and quite annoyed that they sold me a nearly two year old mount (new , but old if you know what i mean) I did a fully automates of five hours overnight sessions, connected and sync to the dome.
For my exposures (up to about 6 minutes), there is no visible tracking error. Typical star images have FWHM widths of about 1.9 pixels.