A new Telescope Dolly design.

I had recently asked my brother Doug Johns for some advice on fixing up an old telescope dolly that I had obtained from a senior member of my local astronomy club. Doug is an experienced fabricator, musician, and all around cool guy. Instead of repairing it, he had designed a new dolly that is solid and secure. Here are a couple of pictures of it when he built it.

The design is so very simple and it secures the tripod legs with round metal cups at the base. I will be using this to roll the rig out from the garage. I will move the rig simply by pushing on the tripod legs. The wheels are all solid rubber – not inflated, which will also act as a vibration damper for the tripod. This is made from dense metal which will hold 200lbs is is very sturdy. Great work Doug! See the before-after pics.

Doug is also a professional musician – check him out at DougJohns.com

By Sedulus Posted in Main

New mount has arrived

Check back frequently for updates! I have some big changes coming: a new rig, telescope dolly, observatory, variable star observing, and generally more participation and updates for 2019.

I received the new SkyWatcher EQ6r today. I am very impressed so far: it looks like this is the heavy mount I need that will provide the stability for the heavy 10″ OTA. The mount was purchased from High Point Scientific for $1,595.

I was surprised by the power adapter- it is a cigarette lighter type: no AC adapter. I will have to search for a DC-AC converter.

I continue to read the manual and do some initial testing in the basement. Also, my Meade LXD75-sn10 dovetail bar will not fit the mount securely. I have had to order a different dovetail that will fit from ScopeStuff.



By Sedulus Posted in Main

Early 2019 imaging targets

ngc1931NGC1931: Cluster associated with nebulosity. Mag: 11.30. In Auriga.

IC348: Cluster associated with nebulosity. Mag: 7.30. In Preseus

NGC1624: Cluster associated with nebulosity. Mag: 10.40. In Auriga.

ngc890NGC890, NGC925 galaxies in Triangulum


By Sedulus Posted in Main

U.S. Solar eclipse 2017: Ohio view

I recorded the 2017 solar eclipse from my telescope in Elyria, Ohio. Here is the exiting video. The filter is not the best quality – it is mylar that I had obtained from an ebay sale: I bought it from someone over in Israel a few years ago.




NGC 4449 is an irregular galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is located about 12 million light-years away, part of the M94 Group, a galaxy group relatively close to the Local Group.

NGC4449_LIGHT_30s_400iso_+31c_00273stdev_20160625-00h27m14s750ms -1

By Sedulus Posted in Main

My main rig

Just showing off my rig. LXD75-sn10 with Crayford motorized focuser, using the Meade DSi imager as a guide scope (with Orion flip mirror), prime focus w/ Cannon T3 Rebel, ASCOM focuser, dew strip on the lens, all attached to my laptop which is remote accessed from my warm home office via RealVNC.


By Sedulus Posted in Main

Moon and Jupiter

Clear night. Moon and Jupiter on the meridian. For this session, I used APT to capture the images. I usually use two astro-photography applications: BackyardEOS and APT. I use APT when imaging the Moon and bright planets because APT provides short exposures down in the 1/100th range: and these short exposures are needed with these very bright objects. The magnified Lunar image was produced with eyepiece projection: a 9mm eyepiece with Canon T3 Rebel. That with a 10-inch aperture with f/4 would be about 113x magnification.

By Sedulus Posted in Main

Listening for Jupiter

20160321_190142 (1)

Steve’s workstation including ham radio and software-defined radio (2016)

A first attempt at radio astronomy. Since I am a registered ham radio operator (FCC General class), I might as well put the radio to use on listening to the cosmos besides terrestrial communications. I have been reading up on radio noise from Jupiter within the 18-22Mhz frequency range, and my radio can access that range, as this is within the 17 and 15Meter amateur radio bands. No results yet, I have yet to find that noise… Anyhow, here is a link to the radio noises recorded from Jupiter by NASA.

So what do the signals sound like? There are two distinct types: L-bursts sound like
ocean waves breaking up on a beach, and S-bursts, which can occur at rates of tens of
bursts per second, sound like popcorn popping or a handful of gravel thrown onto a
tin roof.
Have you heard them? Late at night is the best time, when the ionosphere has become
transparent and most terrestrial signals have disappeared on the 15 meter band. The quiet
hiss in your headphones comes mostly from relativistic electrons spiraling in the galactic
magnetic field. L-bursts and S-bursts are heard above this background noise. A radio
noise storm of L- or S-bursts can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours (Figure 1).
Do you need a giant antenna spread out over several acres? Fortunately not — a ham
band Yagi will do very nicely. Even if Jupiter is 30º or 40º above your horizon, a lowmounted Yagi aimed toward the azimuth of Jupiter will probably have adequate gain. And you don’t need a cryogenically-cooled front end either; your favorite ham-band receiver is plenty sensitive. Just be sure to turn the AGC off, as AGC can severely distort the Jovian noise bursts. Probably the best frequency range is between 18 and 22 MHz, so if you are using a ham-band only receiver, try the 15 or 17 meter bands. Either AM or SSB
modes will work. Just tune for a quiet spot between the stations.
During a good storm, Jovian signals can be easily heard, often several dB above the
background noise. Of course, the bigger your antenna the stronger the signals. The
640-dipole, 26.3 MHz, phased array antenna at the University of Florida would yield signals well over 20 dB above the background (Wallace & Flagg 2010).

Here is a screenshot of Radio-Jupiter Pro: software that predicts Jupiter radio storms.