June Moon

Sundown image of Moon. June 6 2014. Elyria, Ohio USA


10″ schmidt newtonian @ f/5.
ISO: 100.
1/8sec exposure

By Steve J Posted in Main

Slooh pics 1/13/14 – 1/15/14

Here are some random images obtained from the Slooh telescopes in the Canary Islands. This is a nice service to have during the cloudy Winter months. Slooh does have it’s bad weather moments though, as this week has had some tricky clouds. Click each image to get full size.

Slooh costs $300US per year, billed quarterly.

m104_20140113_034426_0_1440_lrgb m104_20140113_034417_0_7207_lrgb m82_20140112_235410_0_1982_lrgb! ngc3190_20140113_024905_0_3863_lrgb!

Slooh session scheduled: NGC 504, 507

I have scheduled a session with Slooh telescope Dome 2 in the Canary Islands to take some 5 minutes of images of galactic clusters in Andromeda. Two clusters of which NGC 504 and NGC 507 are a part. I will post images when I have them on Tuesday 1/6/2014.



Dome 2
Primary Instrument: 0.35 metre f/11 Schmidt-Cassegrain
Field of View: 13.1×8.8 arc-minutes

New addition: Orion Imaging Flip Mirror

This makes things a little easier. I previously tried the Orion thin off-axis guider; it was difficult to find good focus between the two cameras (DSLR and CCD auto-guider). This Orion imaging flip mirror is a lot easier to use and set up. I have it mounted on my guide scope – an older but rugged Meade 1980’s spotting scope. The Meade DSI II is attached. I really like the things at Orion.

Orion Imaging Flip Mirror

Orion Imaging Flip Mirror

Orion Imaging Flip Mirror1

Orion Imaging Flip Mirror with Meade DSI II

Orion Imaging Flip Mirror with Meade DSI II

Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider

I have just purchased an Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider (TOAG). This enables me to contain both the main DSLR and CCD cameras on the same focuser, freeing up my guide scope. Testing has been positive thus far.

Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider

Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider

The TOAG is solid metal: it is very sturdy and will handle the load of a more solid CCD camera such as my Meade DSI II. This is just what I needed for my big Newtonian. “It’s ideal for use with Newtonian reflector telescopes which have limited “back focus” travel” (Orion, 2013). My Schmidt-Newtonian does indeed have limited focuser travel and this item has fit the need quite well. I assembled the item and pointed the telescope out the window and targeted a terrestrial target (a telephone pole). The focus of the two cameras did not match: after adjusting the TOAG I was able to obtain focus on the CCD. It did take some experimenting with the extra included spacers: “[a] C-mount to T-threads adapter, Canon DSLR bayonet adapter, Camera T-adapter, ultra-thin M48 male to T-adapter female adapter, 3mm Coma-Corrector spacer, 18mm spacer, and a 2″ nosepiece” (Orion, 2013) are included to get the right fit.



Now that piggy-backed refractor scope is freed up for visual observing.

Meade lxd75-sn10 Steve Johns 2013

Meade lxd75-sn10 Steve Johns 2013


Orion. 2013. Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider for Astrophotography. Retrieved November 17, 2013 from http://www.telescope.com/Orion-Thin-Off-Axis-Guider-for-Astrophotography/p/102812.uts

Nasa Video of Vesta

Since Fall is officially here, the annual evil weather came with it – resulting in cloudy and rainy conditions. Observing is postponed often this time of year. Meanwhile I post other astronomical content. Here is a video from NASA of the latest flyby of the asteroid Vesta: Click here.

The Dawn Mission: NASA mission to this object: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/

By Steve J Posted in Main Tagged

Circumpolar! – A project kick-off

A view of North from my back patio

A view of North from my back patio. Ignore the DSL lines.

Throughout the 2013-2014 Winter season, I have decided to observe and photograph the area of circumpolar sky above 60Deg North latitude. I like to challenge my self on finding and documenting faint and difficult-to-find targets in unpopular parts of the sky. Who knows – I  might get lucky and actually discover a nova or asteroid in this area. Documentation of each constellation will appear under the Research Projects tab on this site. See the Circumpolar! page for details.

By Steve J Posted in Main

USB power issues

November 3, 2013

Another one of those nights that nothing works right – we all have those…

32-degree F temperature outside. Clear. Had some issues with my auto-guider, a Meade DSI II CCD camera attached to a 3″ refractor auto-guide scope. The 15′ USB extension has too much attenuation as it is transferring data for both the DSI and the Cannon Rebel T3 DSLR. The Cannon had to issues at all, but the DSI live view was nothing but noise most of the time. I had determined that this was due to the reduced voltage going to it. I was forced to observe without an auto-guider: not fun.

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

I am ordering a new Tripp Lite 10-meter USB2.0 A/A Hi-Speed Active Extension / Repeater Cable. The ACTIVE means that is has integrated circuitry that will manage the power along the run. This should clear up things a bit.

By Steve J Posted in Main

Telescope upgrade

Some changes have been made.

The Meade DSI II CCD is now used as an auto-guider and is part of the piggy backed 3” refractor. The Crayford motorized focuser is still doing its job superbly, and a new focus mask helps with the initial focus to give me sharp focus.

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

The Crayford 2” focuser can handle a lot of weight and always holds its focus: it is very solid and will serve me for decades to come. As you can see, I have flipped the OTA by 90deg because of balance issues, and now with the weight of the focuser and camera the weight is more evenly distributed and equal to the finder scope on the other end of the plane.

The guide scope rings and base plate have been replaced with a lighter replacement from SCOPESTUFF.COM as well as the new 6” counterweight extension. This telescope was a little top heavy so instead of adding more weight to the mount (as it is at its limit with this big 10” scope), I simply obtained the extender to more shift and distribute the counter weight. To further reduce the load on the mount motors, I enabled the quiet slew option which enables a slower skew: I am not in a hurry.

Now to get one of those new Meade LX850 series mounts…

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Meade LXD75-sn10 Steve Johns

Clear skies!

log Oct 3 2013

Cloudy and rainy this week, so what else but ordering images from remote robotic telescopes?

From Observing with NASA. An edge-on view of a spiral galaxy NGC981 in Pegasus . Exposure Time: 60.00 sec: my mount would not be this accurate for a 60sec exposure – I would have to take multiple 15sec images and stack them for the same result. Such is the difference between professional-level equipment and amateur equipment.

Raw image:



Contrast enhanced image:



Object: NGC 891
Filenames: NGC891131003090237.GIF and NGC891131003090237.FITS
Date: Thu, Oct 03, 2013
Start Exposure: 02:02:37 AM
Reference Number: moguest-10/02-11:29:56g
Comments: MicroObservatory is run by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Town: Amado
State: AZ
Country: USA
Telescope’s Name: Donald


Camera: Main
Exposure Time: 60.00 sec.
Filter: Clear
Focus Value: 1900
Zoom: Out


Right Ascension: 02h 23.4m
Declination: 42 degrees 24 minutes

Altitude: 79 degrees 14.0 minutes
Azimuth: 355 degrees 28.0 minutes


Hour Angle: 00h 04.6m
Local Siderial Time: 19:26:52
Greenwich Mean Time: 09:02:37
End Exposure: 02:03:39 AM
Longitude: 110.88
Latitude: 31.68
Mode of Operation: Interactive over WWW.
Tracking: Sidereal
CCD Temp: 271.00
Ambient Temp: 293.00
Circuit Temp: n/a
Finder Offsets: none

log 9/28/13

Location: Wellington, Ohio USALocal time: 8-10pm.

logHad some thin clouds all day and evening until about 9:30 pm: then the sky got thick with clouds. The clouds were thin enough to get some images. One of my long-time goals was achieved: capturing the Veil nebula. The Eastern end of it came out rather well. I will be re-processing this image to clear up the noise… Secondly, I imaged 43 beta Andromeda (mirach) with ngc404. The galaxy NGC404 is seen beyond the star 43 beta Andromeda. There are not many clear views of this elusive galaxy due to the brightness of the star. Third, we have the great star cluster M13 in Hercules: i was trying to get a better view of the galaxy near that also, but the thin clouds did not make this easy. Fourth: M27 – a favorite among amateur astronomers.

Veil Nebula: Western end Steve Johns 2013

Veil Nebula: Western end

Veil Nebula: Eastern end

Veil Nebula: Eastern end


43_beta_andr_mirach_ngc404. Faint galaxy (NGC404) beyond the star 43 beta Andromeda (Mirach)


M13: Globular star cluster in Hercules. Steve Johns 2013

Dumbbell nebula

M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) Steve Johns2013

45 eps Cas

45 eps Cas.

About the last photo in this post: I was looking for nebulosity around Cassiopeia when I zoomed in on the star 45 eps Cas. Meade AutoStar presented me a dim planetary nebula nearby: IC 1747. I decided to get an image of it. The magnitude is very dim, so looking at this image is is difficult to tell if I got it. It is probably there, but I will need a longer exposure to see it. Steve Johns 2013

One wierd meteor…

On location in Wellington Ohio on 9/26/2013

Meteors abound. This one was a strange site: it came in low and fast right above us and was colored red and brass. It left a thin smoke trail and was silent: as all of them are. It seemed unusually low and vanished as fast as it arrived. I had never seen a meteor like this before: it did not look like an ordinary space rock like most – it rather resembled burned-up space debris: brass color with glowing red on half of it. Strange…

I am the worst digital artist of the Century, but this doctored photo of the observing site shows how it looked. The sky was dark when it happened: looking Northeast @ 41deg N.

Now, where did I put that tin foil hat….

Space junk

Space junk

log 9/26/2013

Wellington, Ohio

post list
These are not the best images, but I am now using a new camera, a DSLR instead of the Meade DSI II. I am using the Meade DSI for auto-guiding as the Sony a330 with infra-red remote is far better. The auto-guiding does help with tracking accuracy but it still does need some tweaking. The problem with the Sony a330 DSLR is that it is not compatible with ANY DSLR astronomy imaging software anywhere. Even ASCOM does not work with it: so you can see some things are slightly out of focus. … adding more pics to this post this weekend.
M110: Companion to M31

M110: Companion to M31

M31 Wellington Ohio

M31 Wellington Ohio

Owl Nebula: Raw image Sony DSLR

Owl Nebula: Raw image Sony DSLR

Owl Nebula: contrast enhanced. Steve Johns 2013

Owl Nebula: contrast enhanced.


M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

Uranus Sept 26 2013 Wellington, Ohio. Steve Alan Johns

Uranus Sept 26 2013 Wellington, Ohio

Uranus location 2013

Setting up for the night. Wellington Ohio 2013

Setting up for the night in Wellington Ohio 2013. Even brought the old 1987 Meade 6600 reflector out of storage for some action. It has high mileage.