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Mar 21 2018 09:37 AM | rekokich in Articles

Using a small TSAPO65Q astrograph, on 19 Dec 2017 we accidentally recorded a transient optical signal (TOS) of apparent magnitude around 17.4 in close proximity to the ultra-luminous x-ray source (ULX) in the nearby spiral galaxy M74. Since its discovery in 2005 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory space telescope, evidence is mounting that this strong x-ray source is generated by an intermediate-mass black hole of approximately 10,000 solar masses. It seems counterintuitive that a telescope of such modest aperture could reveal an optical signal from a black hole in another galaxy 32 million LY distant. But, preliminary calculations show that energy requirements for the detected signal are five hundred times lower than those of a type Ia supernova, and that mass requirements for the generation of that energy involve only a minute fraction of a small planet.

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Mar 17 2018 11:48 AM | GeezerGazer in Articles

Last August, I contacted Matt McBee in Tennessee about doing an H-a filter comparison with our Mod 3C Night Vision Devices (NVDs). Matt had purchased an Astrodon 5nm H-a filter and wondered how it would compare to a 7nm filter in his scope and under his suburban light pollution. I had purchased an Optolong 7nm H-a filter and wondered how it would compare to a 5nm from both my suburban light polluted home and from a semi-dark site that requires a 45 minute drive. So in September, we agreed to exchange filters. In the meantime, I purchased an Astrodon 5nm. I sent Matt my 7nm filter because I would be traveling for a month.

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Wireless Control of an Astro-Video Camera’s On-Screen Display (OSD) Options and Video

Dec 07 2017 12:41 PM | F Wegener in Articles

Astrovideography has been around for a number of years now. The video cameras used cover a wide range of manufacturers and price points. Some are designed specifically for the astronomy community, while others are high resolution security cameras that have been adapted for use. There are already a number of articles online detailing the use of these cameras, so I won’t go into that. Most of the cameras have buttons on their back panels that are pressed to make adjustments using their OSD (On Screen Display), options. This, of course, requires the user to physically touch the device multiple times once it has been aligned to a desired target, so is not ideal! If you know what you’re doing, you can very carefully add a multi-wire cable to the camera, soldering connections to the internal switching. After running said cable to a homemade switch box, you can then adjust the settings without touching the camera; however, you now have a 12 volt cable to the mount, another one to the camera, a video cable from the camera to the monitor and another cable running to the homemade control box. I wanted to simplify this issue!

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Pop-Up Canopy Observatory

Nov 24 2017 10:06 AM | charles genovese in Articles

Having been born with a “Tinker Gene” it occurred to me some time ago that rather than just cover the adjunct scope equipment with a pop up canopy to prevent the inevitable dew we have here in the South that an inexpensive canopy could be easily modified to make a portable observatory. I built this one last year and I have been very pleased with the result at night and additionally I found it was hugely helpful providing shade for Solar observing and I thought I would share it.

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DIY Bluetooth Remote Focus Control

Nov 21 2017 02:36 PM | skaiser in Articles

I came up with the idea of using an old Lego NXT Mindstorm control module and NXT motor I had laying around to drive my focus knob. The Mindstorm can be controlled via Bluetooth which is ideal for my control interface. This type setup could be adapted to most scopes if a convenient mounting location is available.

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Reading optical measurement data

Oct 21 2017 12:47 PM | Benach in Articles

These days, interferometers become cheaper and therefore more common every day. This is an asset for amateur astronomy because this allows far better optics than in the days of only Foucault testing. In this short article, based on actual measurements of a secondary mirror, I will very briefly explain how to interpret this data.

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Six Months Observing Upside Down

Sep 02 2017 12:01 PM | bunyon in Articles

Traveling to the southern hemisphere is a topic that pops up frequently on Cloudynights and other amateur astronomy discussion groups where northern observers and imagers congregate. I’ve written this piece to try to share some of what I learned about doing amateur astronomy in Chile and Argentina. Obviously, even in six months it is impossible to do everything or go everywhere so this isn’t a comprehensive guide. Still, I hope it’s helpful and that it inspires a few people who have been wavering in their decision to head south.

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Adapting Eyepieces for Binoviewing

Aug 29 2017 12:45 PM | The Ardent in Articles

Successful binoviewing entails one major requirement: both eyes must receive light from the objective. Now this sounds kinda obvious, right? Well it's not that easy. Most astronomical binoculars and binoviewers are hinged. This allows the two eyepieces to be spaced so that light enters both eyes. Some of us have a narrow IPD and facial structure that prevents optimal eye placement. In my case, the nose. It won't fit between some binocular eyepieces. It won't fit when binoviewing with complex, wide body eyepieces.

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So, you want to make an Observing Chair?

Mar 17 2017 10:33 AM | rboe in Articles

At some point we all wish we had a chair to plant our bum on while at the scope. I’ve written this little ditty to share what I’ve learned so that perhaps you can make mistakes totally different from the ones I made (and I seem to continue making them). Like any woodworker I have my biases, preferred ways to do things (e.g. mortice and tenon joints) but for the observing chairsI present here there are lots of options open to you; consider your budget, skills and available tools to make your choices.

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Interferometrically Testing Two Celestron C14 Edge Telescopes

Feb 25 2017 05:04 PM | jhayes_tucson in Articles

I’ve wanted to interferometrically test the two C14s that I have in my shop to get some good data on their optical quality for some time but gathering all of the equipment needed for such a test isn’t easy and I was hesitant to take my scope out of action when the skies were clear. Since it would probably be cloudy for months on end in winter, December seemed like a good time to try to get it done.

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