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Posts Made By: Ron Hranac

May 29, 2006 04:43 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Stellacam II first light

Posted By Ron Hranac

I finally made the plunge and acquired a Stellacam II. For those of you unfamiliar with this astro gadget, it's essentially an electronic eyepiece--specifically a black & white real-time imaging device. It comes with a 1.25-inch adapter so it can be used like an eyepiece. Instead of looking through an eyepiece, though, the Stellacam II is connected to an external video monitor. It's capable of providing a live video feed, or stacking individual video frames--anywhere from 1 to 256--for improved performance with deep sky objects. The Stellacam II is said to be ideal for DSOs, but is not recommended for bright planets or the moon.

I connected the Stellacam II to an external Sony 9-inch B&W video monitor.

First light was Jupiter (OK, I'm not real good about following directions), and I had the best results with a Tele Vue 5x Powermate between the Stellacam II and the scope's diagonal. This dimmed Jupiter's image sufficiently to still be able to set the frame stack control to between 1 and 4 frames (I played with this a bit along with gain and gamma), and provided enough magnification to see a surprising amount of surface detail on the external monitor. The scope was a Tak TOA-130. So much for not being recommended for planets. I found it to work quite well.

Second light was a daytime view of the sun through a 60mm H-alpha scope and a neutral density filter. I couldn't see any surface detail on the sun, but tweaking gain and gamma (with the stack control set to off or 1) showed silouettes of prominances on the sun's limb. OK, the Stellacam II worked here, but not as well as I'd hoped.

Back to the night sky.

With the Stellacam II connected to the TOA-130, the combo provided impressive images on the monitor of globular clusters (M3 & M13), the Ring Nebula, and the Whirlpool Galaxy. I was surprised at the amount of detail visible in the galaxy image. It rivaled some pictures I've seen. My wife even came outside to take a look at the monitor, commenting that the spiral arms looked like a "cinnamon roll." grin

For all of these DSOs, I had the stack control set to 256 frames, gain about mid-position, and I played with the gamma control switch (usually set to the middle position).

All of these views were from the driveway in front of my house. Denver's light polluted skies didn't seem to be a major factor, and for most of the objects I left the porch light on. There was no moonlight (new moon or nearly so), so that could prove to be an issue later.

This coming weekend I'm going to take the Stellacam II to the Denver Astronomical Society's June open house. It seems ideal for astronomy outreach, and will allow folks to see objects that otherwise couldn't be seen, especially from Denver's light polluted skies. I'll also see how the Stellacam II does with first quarter moon, likely with a neutral density filter.

Downsides? Cost is one--the Stellacam II sells for around $800. 8O It also has a handful of hot pixels, which show up as "stars" on the monitor (when in stack mode). This isn't a major distraction, but it does put a half dozen or so new stars in the image along with whatever is being viewed. wink

Ron


May 30, 2006 12:38 PM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society June open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

Mark your calendar! Saturday the 3rd the Denver Astronomical Society will host its June open house at Observatory Park on the University of Denver campus, starting at dusk. This monthly get-together is a great family activity, so if the weather cooperates make plans for an evening of fun.

The historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building. Mercury will be visible on the western horizon just after sunset, and Saturn & Mars—separated by about 7 degrees—will be near Gemini’s Castor and Pollux. Jupiter looks to be the popular viewing target this Saturday. The Great Red Spot will transit Jupiter’s meridian at 9:05 p.m. MDT, and a shadow transit of one of Jupiter’s moons (Europa) gets underway about 9:35 p.m. MDT.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Ron

June 27, 2006 12:15 PM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society monthly open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

Mark your calendar! Saturday the 1st the Denver Astronomical Society will host its July open house at Observatory Park on the University of Denver campus, starting at dusk. This monthly get-together is a great family activity, so if the weather cooperates make plans for an evening of fun.

The historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building. The theme of this Saturday’s open house is “Jupiter Madness.” The solar system’s largest planet rises at 3:31 p.m. MDT on the 1st, transits at 8:47 p.m., and sets at 2:04 a.m. on the 2nd. By 9:00 p.m. MDT Saturday night, Jupiter will be slightly west of due south (~183 degrees azimuth) and ~36 degrees above the horizon. The not-quite-first quarter Moon will be well-situated in the southwest sky for observing, too.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Ron

July 31, 2006 06:17 PM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society monthly open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

Mark your calendar! Saturday the 5th the Denver Astronomical Society will host its August open house at Observatory Park on the University of Denver campus, starting at dusk. This monthly get-together is a great family activity, so if the weather cooperates make plans for an evening of fun.

The historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building. Jupiter is still visible in the evening sky (rises at 1:20 p.m., sets at 11:49 p.m. MDT this Saturday), and the waxing gibbous moon should provide some good views of lunar features along the terminator.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Ron

September 25, 2006 12:45 PM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society monthly open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

Mark your calendar! Saturday the 30th the Denver Astronomical Society will host its September open house at Observatory Park on the University of Denver campus, starting at dusk. This monthly get-together is a great family activity, so if the weather cooperates make plans for an evening of fun.

The historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator

October 24, 2006 09:52 AM Forum: Star Parties

Colorado Astronomy Day and DAS open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

Mark your calendar! This Saturday the October 28th the Denver Astronomical Society, the University of Denver, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Fiske Planetarium and other organizations will celebrate Colorado Astronomy Day 2006. http://www.coloradoastronomyday.org/index.html

The list of activities for Colorado Astronomy Day can be found at http://www.coloradoastronomyday.org/cadparticipants.html.

In addition to supporting activities of Colorado Astronomy Day 2006 during the day Saturday, he DAS will host its October open house at Observatory Park on the University of Denver campus, starting at dusk. This monthly get-together is a great family activity, so if the weather cooperates make plans for an evening of fun.

The historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public during the open house, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator

February 19, 2007 09:06 AM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society February open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

The DAS is planning to host its monthly open house this Saturday, February 24. If the weather cooperates—and that’s looking a little iffy as of right now (still, we remain an optimistic bunch)—the historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public during the open house, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn (snow?) next to the observatory building.

The theme for this weekend’s open house is Saturn, always an observing favorite.

Things get underway at dusk.

http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Here’s a link to a Mapquest map of the observatory’s approximate location:

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searchtype=address&country=US&addtohistory=&searchtab=home&formtype=address&popflag=0&latitude=&longitude=&name=&phone=&level=&cat=&address=2930+E.+Warren+Ave.&city=Denver&state=CO&zipcode=80210

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator


April 14, 2007 04:37 PM Forum: Eyepieces

Permanently marking eyepieces

Posted By Ron Hranac

Does anyone have suggestions for permanently marking eyepieces with some sort of personal identification? (Note: I'm not concerned about selling my eyepieces in the future.) I'm not comfortable with using an electric engraver because of the vibration, and individual letters that can be stamped into metal or plastic using a hammer are out of the question.

One option I ran across is a "Trace Mark" by Microstamp Corporation. Has anyone used this?

Any other thoughts?

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator

June 29, 2007 12:48 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Fujinon's BIG binoculars

Posted By Ron Hranac

Has anyone had a chance to look through Fujinon's 150mm binoculars? I'm curious how the image quality is, especially in the 45-degree ED versions. Apparent pros are Fujinon's reputation, the aperture (150mm), and likely the optical quality. Cons are size, weight, cost. 8O

These truly big binoculars seem to be as rare as hens' teeth. I've yet to see them at a local star party.

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator

July 19, 2007 12:17 PM Forum: Star Parties

Denver Astronomical Society monthly open house

Posted By Ron Hranac

The Denver Astronomical Society is planning to host its monthly open house this Saturday, July 21. If the weather cooperates, the historic Chamberlin Observatory and its 20-inch Clark refractor will be open to the public during the open house, and DAS members will have a variety of telescopes set up on the lawn next to the observatory building.

http://www.denverastrosociety.org/openhouses.html

The theme for this weekend’s open house is "Jupiter Madness." Even though the gas giant is relatively low in the nighttime southern sky, it ought to provide some good views. Plan on seeing some other summertime celestial objects, too: the almost first-quarter Moon, open and globular clusters, nebula, and some of the more interesting asterisms.

Things get underway at dusk.

More information about historic Chamberlin Observatory can be found at http://www.thedas.org/chamberlin.html

Observatory Park is fairly easy to find. Take I-25 to Evans, go west on Evans to Fillmore St. (Fillmore is about four blocks east of University Blvd.), turn south on Fillmore, and go about a block and a half. You’ll see the Chamberlin Observatory building in the park, near Warren & Fillmore. DAS members generally have telescopes set up on the south & southwest side of the observatory building.

Here’s a link to a Mapquest map of the observatory’s approximate location:

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searchtype=address&country=US&addtohistory=&searchtab=home&formtype=address&popflag=0&latitude=&longitude=&name=&phone=&level=&cat=&address=2930+E.+Warren+Ave.&city=Denver&state=CO&zipcode=80210

Ron
Equipment Forum co-moderator