Astrotrac Woes

Back at NEAF, I purchased an Astrotrac unit hoping to put it to good use for wide-field astrophotography. I had been looking at the unit for the past couple of years since it first showed up in a few magazines and saw the early units at NEAF. So finally I got my own. I got a reasonably clear nigt for testing in NYC almost immediately and discovered the polar alignment scope, which is supposed to be the same as the Losmand polar alignment scope, had a problem. The magnification is slightly off compared to the etched reticle.

Article in Time Out New York Kids!

I was interviewed a month or two ago for an article in Time Out New York Kids about astronomy activities with children. The call went out from Rich Rosenberg or the Amateur Astronomer's Association here in NYC to all members and I guess I was the first to get in line. Our neighbors saw the article before I did and brought it over.

NEAIC and NEAF

The imaging conference (NEAIC) and the Telescope Show (NEAF) are over for this year. The last few days have been pretty hectic and I'm just now catching up.

On Friday, I attended a spectroscopy workshop led by Olivier Thizy where he walked us through the process of using a spectrum taken with a diffraction grating in front of a Canon 350D (Digital Rebel XT) which we then used to measure the rotational speed of Saturn. What a cool application using completely off-the-shelf components.

NEAIC Underway!

The Northeast Astronomical Imaging Conference is starting its second day. Yesterday's set of talks were great.

The plenary session by Ken Crawford provided some interesting ideas on how to bring out image details. His focus was on techniques appropriate to what he labelled "technical art" wherein he spends quite a bit of time using various image masks to selectively process parts of the image to bring out local features.

Session 5B: Craters!

To form realistic craters you need realistic materials. However, we can't reasonably fire slugs of iron or rock at speeds up to 60 kilometers per second at slabs of rock (not and expect to survive anyway). But that doesn't mean we can't come up with an analog which will demonstrate many of the characteristics of a real impact. One idea I came across is the use of fine sand and a projectile like a marble. I haven't tried this and it may work. Another idea was to use flour instead of the sand. Again, I haven't tried that one, but it sounds like it might work.

News feeds okay again

The news feed problem is largely resolved. Except for Pluto (which isn't a planet anymore anyway, right ), they were either fixed or the source or else were due to a configuration problem on my side. Pluto has some problems and I've forced in current feed information, but the problem will have to get fixed on the source or it will go stale again....

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