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Sierra Stars Observatory

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#1 asaint

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 09:56 AM

Sierra Stars Observatory

#2 ScottAz

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 10:28 AM

Cool write-up, David! :bow: Thanks for sharing! :cool:

#3 dsnope

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:23 AM

Can you give an idea how much it costs to do a few hours of imaging with little or no moon in the sky? I've looked at some of the other remote observatories websites and found the cost information was 'nebulous'.

P.S. I checked their website and found that it costs $100 per hour of exposure time, and that there is a first time user discount.


#4 dsnay

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:47 PM

Can you give an idea how much it costs to do a few hours of imaging with little or no moon in the sky? I've looked at some of the other remote observatories websites and found the cost information was 'nebulous'.

P.S. I checked their website and found that it costs $100 per hour of exposure time, and that there is a first time user discount.


Their prices are as advertised. For $100 you get a full hour of camera time. They do not charge you for the time it takes to verify the data and post it to the website. Nor do they charge for any operational time between images.

All the images I made for this article required only 30 minutes of time, with the exception of the globular, which only used 18 minutes of time since I didn't use any luminance data on that one.

If I didn't already have all the gear I have, this would definitely be the way I would go for imaging.

Feel free to check out my web page here for more details on each image as well as my work with my own gear over the years.

Hope this helps.

Dave

#5 Mr. Bill

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 05:10 PM

Begs the question....

Unless I'm doing science, what can I do with this setup that is unique and my own?

Hasn't every possible DSO been imaged as well many times already by many people using similar equipment?

Kind of a general question about this type of activity.

:question:

#6 dsnay

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 07:39 AM

Good question.

For me it's the challenge of accomplishing a difficult task. Capturing the data is only part of the job. Processing that data is sometimes far more difficult, making it that much more rewarding.

The argument that it's already been done doesn't do anything to deter me. Pretty much every star, cluster, nebula and planet has been viewed through a telescope but that doesn't keep me from observing either. The theory that something that's already been done isn't worth doing again would stifle an awful lot of personal growth and achievement if adhered to. Why write a great novel? Mark Twain's already done that. Why practice photography, painting, drawing? Pretty much everything's already been photographed, painted or drawn. See where I'm going with this? We do what we do because it pleases us and sometimes amazing things take place during the process.

Dave

#7 Mr. Bill

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 11:30 AM

Good question.

For me it's the challenge of accomplishing a difficult task. Capturing the data is only part of the job. Processing that data is sometimes far more difficult, making it that much more rewarding.

The argument that it's already been done doesn't do anything to deter me. Pretty much every star, cluster, nebula and planet has been viewed through a telescope but that doesn't keep me from observing either. The theory that something that's already been done isn't worth doing again would stifle an awful lot of personal growth and achievement if adhered to. Why write a great novel? Mark Twain's already done that. Why practice photography, painting, drawing? Pretty much everything's already been photographed, painted or drawn. See where I'm going with this? We do what we do because it pleases us and sometimes amazing things take place during the process.

Dave


Hi Dave

BIG difference between real time visual observing and AP....visual is always different depending on conditions whereas AP has a limiting factor in terms of equipment, which in this case is as good as it gets. As the hardware and software becomes more sophisticated, individual input becomes less and less. Push a button and sit back. The creativity now resides in postprocessing.

My point is that if I image an object and you image the same object with the same equipment, we will end up will virtually identical images. We might as well download the image without spending $100/hour to acquire it and go from there.

The novel writing analogy doesn't hold water; you're confusing process with the end product. Same process; different end product.If I sit down and write a novel or draw a picture, I don't end up with the same novel or picture that you do.

#8 dsnay

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 12:03 PM


Hi Dave

BIG difference between real time visual observing and AP....visual is always different depending on conditions whereas AP has a limiting factor in terms of equipment, which in this case is as good as it gets. As the hardware and software becomes more sophisticated, individual input becomes less and less. Push a button and sit back. The creativity now resides in postprocessing.

My point is that if I image an object and you image the same object with the same equipment, we will end up will virtually identical images. We might as well download the image without spending $100/hour to acquire it and go from there.

The novel writing analogy doesn't hold water; you're confusing process with the end product. Same process; different end product.If I sit down and write a novel or draw a picture, I don't end up with the same novel or picture that you do.


Mr. Bill,

Astrophotography isn't for everyone. Some like and some don't. We are clearly of different opinions on the subject. That's fine. If we all agreed on everything, the world would be a pretty boring place.

Dave

#9 Mr. Bill

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 12:30 PM

I've done plenty of AP...

My point is the increasing technology makes acquiring images a push button process.

Remember hand guiding and hypered film and when postprocessing was done in the darkroom?

:cool:

#10 Sierra Stars

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 01:14 AM

Hi Dave Snay et al:

I occasionally do a Google search on Sierra Stars Observatory and I found this thread. . .

I'm in the observatory right now waiting (again!) for the clouds to clear that interrupted the current observing run and I thought I would join the discussion while I have some time.

SSO is a very powerful and useful tool. However, it might not be for everyone and wasn't necessarily designed to be so. If you want to do serious science (and a lot of our customers are doing so) then it is certainly one of the best readily available resources on the Internet. "Doing science" can be a great deal of fun and be very rewarding. You can work with professional astronomers as well and they really appreciate the effort and help. Of course not everyone is interested in going this route.

Bills' point about all the brightest and big Messier and NGC objects being imaged countless times is well taken. You can go on line and download outstanding and high quality images of these objects taken with professional observatories and talented amateurs using cutting-edge equipment. Still many people like to take these images on their own . . . maybe for the pride of ownership and doing it themselves.

However, if you like to take images and process them yourself for their esthetic value, there are a huge number of interesting objects (literally thousands) that are rarely (if ever) imaged. With an instrument like SSO and it's relatively large image scale and FOV there is an untapped opportunity to image thousands of different nebula, galaxies, and galaxy clusters that no one else is doing. Sure they are not going to be as dramatic as the couple of hundred objects that everyone else is taking, but they will be more or less unique and probably quite interesting as well. Sometimes thinking "outside the box" can get you out of the doldrums and get you excited.

Anyway I'm not trying to be too promotional about SSO. You can certainly start trying this with your own equipment!

Now if these *BLEEP* clouds will go away so we can get more images taken for people who are waiting for them . . .

#11 Tom Polakis

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:10 AM

Good review. It's great to see these robotic observatories popping up in various locations. The location at least looks moderately dark based on the typically reliable map from "The World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness" at the Clear Sky Clock site.

One word about the climate, however. At it's Web site, Sierra Stars Observatory claims, "...over 270 clear nights (and sunny days) per year. I'm willing to bet that the actual number is about half of that. Take a look at actual data from Lowell Observatory collected by Brian Skiff, who has been paying attention for nearly 30 years. Check out any of the annual summaries at
this site. You would really only be able to image on photometric or partial nights, and the total number is typically about 150.

I have been paying very close attention to astronomy weather around the country, and I'm certain (as are professionals who do site surveys) that Arizona is superior over the course of the year to Northern California. So the actual number of usable nights is likely somewhat less than 150. Don't get me wrong; that's still far superior to anywhere east of the Mississippi. It's just that the expectations maybe need to be toned down a bit, particularly if you're interested in Winter observing.

Tom






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