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First Steps Into Variable Star Photometry

Jun 01 2021 05:00 AM | garyhawkins in Articles

This short white paper aims to demonstrate that it is possible for the average amateur astronomer who is engaging in digital astronomy to step into the world of photometry. Why might you consider this? Well, it opens up opportunities for advancing one’s knowledge in the hobby, as well as the potential to participate in valuable citizen science projects, such as the upcoming Exoplanet Watch program. Participating in a course on exoplanet transit measurements hosted by the Boyce-Astro Foundation started my interest in photometric analysis. I wondered if my modest telescope setup could carry out such measurements.

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The Discoveries of Galileo – Part 5: The Milky Way, Orion, and Asterisms

May 01 2021 05:01 AM | E-Ray in Articles

This is the final article on the Discoveries of Galileo from 1609 to 1612. His discoveries of Jupiter, sunspots, the Moon, and Venus were covered in parts one through four of this series. This article will cover Galileo’s observations of the Milky Way, the constellation Orion and star clusters or what we term today as asterisms.

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Switching to iOptron: What I learned from my new GEM45

May 01 2021 05:00 AM | Michael Covington in Articles

These are short notes on things I learned about using my new iOptron GEM45 equatorial mount, moving from Celestron mounts (AVX and CGEM). The CEM40 is very similar to the GEM45, and other iOptron mounts are also rather similar. I assume you have the instruction manual for your (actual or planned) iOptron mount; manuals are available on line.

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BASIC EXTRAGALACTIC ASTRONOMY Part 8: Central Supermassive Black Holes - Discovery and Properties

Apr 18 2021 10:00 AM | rekokich in Articles

The only primary evidence available to an astronomer about a very remote object consists of photometric measurements, a spectrogram, and an image which is in many cases no more than a pinpoint of light. In this article we present basic cosmological concepts and simplified mathematical methods which allow an amateur to derive from this meager data a surprising number of physical properties of distant extragalactic objects with a precision of several percent within professional results.

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Reopening of The WPF (When Pigs Fly) Observatory

Apr 14 2021 03:07 PM | Dupree in Articles

After quite a long time in limbo I recently began to rehabilitate my backyard observatory. It had lain fallow for a couple of years due to life distractions and the rationalization that I could go there any time I wanted. After shoveling out the POD from a recent mid-February snowstorm I went inside to inspect the mount, telescopes, and surroundings.

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The Discoveries of Galileo – Part 4: Venus

Apr 01 2021 05:00 AM | E-Ray in Articles

Galileo’s discoveries of Jupiter, sunspots, and the Moon were covered in parts 1 through 3 of this series. This article will cover an important discovery that Galileo made in late 1610 of his observations of Venus.

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How to Make a Flat Frame Panel for Dark Sites (Cheap)

Mar 28 2021 11:15 AM | profdmt in Articles

Having recently dived into astrophotography, I have found that most problems I face have been faced before, and have a plethora of solutions. Typically, those fall into a couple of categories – expensive, and cheap do-it-yourself. But backyard astronomers being the type of people they are, they tend to share one endearing characteristic – heavily over-engineered for the problem at hand.

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The Discoveries of Galileo – Part 3: The Moon

Mar 01 2021 07:00 AM | E-Ray in Articles

In the fall of 1609 Galileo began studying the Moon with his spyglass and he would sketch the features he saw. We need to understand that the magnification of his spyglass by this time was around 21x and it had a very narrow field of view such that he could only see about half the width of the Moon. His telescope was also rather long at about a meter (39.4”) so it must have been very difficult for Galileo to track the Moon with his makeshift tripod.

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The Discoveries of Galileo – Part 2: Sunspots and Their Movements

Jan 24 2021 12:53 PM | E-Ray in Articles

Last month I wrote in Part 1 about Galileo’s discovery that the wandering star, Jupiter, was a planet that had four moons. Recall that my motivation was reading the book Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo published in 1957 by Stillman Drake, a Canadian historian and authority on the complete works on Galileo. This article will cover Galileo’s observations of sunspots which got him into hot water with the Roman Catholic Church in 1616.

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WarpTune my Advanced VX?

Jan 24 2021 12:31 PM | Gork in Articles

This question eventually surfaces on just about every mount found in the low to medium range. If you pay $6,000 for a mount it has probably been tuned during manufacturing. For a mount like the AVX what you get is an assembled piece of machinery that is simply bolted, snapped, or screwed together and never really tested or adjusted for fine operation. That is why your mount is usually stiff or tight. I recently bought a new Advanced VX mount as a part of my down-sizing program.

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