A few people have asked, quite surprisingly to me, what kind of observatory I was “letting go” from my long-term goals. Most plebes think an observatory is simply a place to put your scope and observe the sky, and while they are not completely wrong, it is much more complicated than a simple “location-based” definition.
So, let’s start with what I have as a scope:
That set-up is made up of nine things:
A physical site:
A location to do the viewing, preferably with dark skies (this picture is taken at the inlaws’ cottage in front of a lake and big open skies to the west);
A flat platform for the equipment all to rest upon, along with vibration suppression pads under the tripod legs; and,
Some sort of limited area around the space;
An optical tube — the orange part, which is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) design;
A mount — the small black base with a computer in it and an arm that rises up from just below the tube to attach at the far side of the scope; and,
A tripod — the silver part, with the three legs fully extended;
An eyepiece (black with green banding at the top back of the scope);
A power source, which is a portable power tank (this model is very similar to a car battery); and,
A place to hold accessories, which is a flat area just below the black mount, very hard to see in the photo although there is also a table out of range of the camera;
I have almost 1400 posts and pages, and with a redesign that I’ve recently been working on, i.e., changing many things behind the scenes in layout and workflow, I need to go back and fix a bunch of featured images for sizes. So at the same time, since I’ll be using the Featured Images in a slightly different way along with other graphics in my site, I’ll take advantage of the update to also consider new images.
For astronomy posts, most of which up until now have been about astronomy and telescopes and imaging, oh my, I’ve tended to use a whimsical graphic for all of it.
It has a transparent background, PNG format, and I like the light nature of it. It reflects my approach to astronomy, generally informal, non-scientific, heavy focus on observing over imaging or logging. In short? Fun.
For reviewing purposes, I skipped over the short Chapter 6, focused on Sky Portal operations, as I’ll do that chapter after I have a chance to connect to my tablet and test some of the operations. I thought of doing the same for Chapter 07, Connecting a PC, Mac, Tablet or Smartphone to Your Tablet, but it’s a short chapter, and easily dispensed with here.
Some of the highlights:
P.165 – Wired Connections for RS-232 Hand Controls…I knew that most of the wired connections used a USB to Serial adapter, and plugs in to the RJ-22 Jack (I thought it was an RJ-45, but apparently not!). However, one “new” thing in the guide is that there is a way to do a wired connection to a tablet or smartphone using SkyWire + Sky Safari with an iOS device. I had no idea there was an option for a physical wire connection. » Read the rest
Chapter 5 (of Michael Swanson’s “The NexStar User’s Guide II”) is entitled NexStar and StarSense Hand Control Operations and you would be right if you assumed this was going to more like a software manual than a telescope manual. It is a highly specific reference manual for the use of the hand controller and reading it page by page is for the hard-core geek only. But it is full of fantastic info that I didn’t know enough about, even though I’ve worked with the hand controller for years. These are the highlights for me:
Pg. 128 – Adjusting slew rates…I knew how to manually adjust the slew rate (MOTOR SPEED then press 1-9 where 9 was the fastest). I really only use 3, 6, and 9 for rates though. 9 if I’m going a great distance, 6 if I’m adjusting for centreing, and 3 if I need very fine adjustments while doing astrophotography and looking at centreing something on the screen. » Read the rest
Chapter 4 of Michael Swanson’s “The NexStar User’s Guide II” is entitled Alignment and is the chapter that made me want to buy the book and read it cover to cover. Readers of the blog know that I struggled with alignment for my NexStar 8SE (Solving alignment problems with the Celestron NexStar 8SE) and Michael’s online resources were helpful in resolving some of them, or at least narrowing the problem. I even held off buying the book because he said Guide II was coming and I should wait over Guide I. Then I managed to solve most of the alignment issues, and so when his book arrived, I didn’t devour the whole book right away. I just cruised through the Alignment chapter. Then this past summer, I went back and re-read everything in order.
Here are some highlights from Chapter 4:
Backlash compensation (P.87): A great element for those of us with slightly older scopes whose mounts are no longer “factory fresh”. » Read the rest