The 0.4m (16″) compact dob, code named Molly, continues

Here we have a simple plywood disk mirror cell in the mirror box. there are 18 felt pads at the calculated points for support of the mirror.
Here I’ve cut out two 30″ diameter altitude bearings and matching rocker box sides from a single 2’x4’by3/4″ sheet of plywood.

Here we see the altitude bearings attached to the mirror box, resting on the rocker box with the mirror resting on its cell.

Look what Fedex brought

It’s the seed from which a 16″ lowrider dobsonian telescope will grow. I’ve been daydreaming about building a larger telescope for a while when I came across this on the Cloudy Nights classifieds for a nice price. 16″ has been in the back of my head for years as a good size. On the cusp of being a large scope but not really having to deal with big scope problems like weight, cool down, or $$$.  16″ would typically just be $$ not $$$.  More to come as I build stuff to go around it.

Moon over DeGray Lake


Here is the former “super” Moon setting over DeGray Lake Saturday morning. I’m always a sucker for a Moon in blue sky.

Little Dipper from the River Ridge Observatory


I took this shot of Polaris and the Little Dipper last night at the River Ridge Observatory. Nothing fancy, just a 30 second image a 6400 ISO with my widest angle lens. Polaris is the bright star just above the center and a little to the left. The Little Dipper extends almost horizontally and drooping a little as it does to the left. The thin clouds add a nice touch I think though normally I don’t like them.

Observing Session at the River Ridge Observatory

Tuesday and Wednesday were two long days separated by one short night so I retired early Wednesday evening with the idea of going to the River Ridge Observatory after midnight to see new Messier objects for my AL observing challenge or sleeping all night.  I had mostly exhausted the list available in the earlier hours.
Left house at about 1:40, the Moon was near the horizon.  Arrived at the RRO at 2:15. The sky was clear, seeing good, and temperature about 45 F. Pegasus was just starting to set in the west which was good. One of my targets was M33, the Pinwheel Galaxy in Triangulum, which I’ve been trying to find in the east earlier in the evening but it has been lost in the skyglow. Leo was just rising.
M33 was easy to see in binoculars but hard in scope due to its size, it filled the view, but I finally made out some small bits of fluff in the scope.
M77 in Cetus was next. Cetus is a dim constellation but I was able to make out the tail which was all I cared about. One star seemed to be missing and I wondered if it might be Mira, aka Omicron Ceti,  a long period variable and sure enough when I checked later the missing star was Mira which must be dim right now.
With those two objects which had defeated me before out of the way, I turned to the new objects that I got up in the middle of the night for – M1, M78, M42, M43, M79, M41, M50, M46, M47, M93, M48, M44, M67, M35, M36, M37, M38, M81, M82, and M97. Some were harder than others but all were seen.
All the while Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky was on the southern horizon, its light twisted from red to green and colors in between by the atmosphere.

Mars and the Teapot (short and stout)

I used my Canon Rebel tonight to do some simple astrophotography. It was connected to my Nexstar mount for tracking and running BackyardEOS on the laptop to control it. After spending quite some time manually focusing and trying different ISOs and exposures I settled on ISO 1600 and 30 seconds. It was supposed to be clear but there were thin clouds all over. The bright “star” on the left is Mars and if you look closely in the lower left quadrant you’ll see the teapot of Sagitarrius. I was also hoping to capture the nova currently in Sagitarrius just above the spout and if I zoom in I can see a star right where the nova is but it’s none too impressive.

Saturn, Mars, and Antares August 24, 2016

Wednesday evening I went outside and took some pictures of a rough alignment of the planets Saturn, Mars and the star Antares. The ruler straight alignment occurred earlier in the day so I had to settle for a slight bend. Vertically from the top, near the center of the frame the bright stars are Saturn, Mars, and Antares. If you know your constellations you can also make out the pincers of the scorpion on the right as Antares is the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.This was shot with a Canon Rebel T5, 75mm lens, 1 second exposure, at f4.5, ISO 1600.

Saturn, Mars, Antares August 2016 1310

Butterflies and a Moth at the RRO

I went to mow at the River Ridge Observatory Tuesday evening but before I started I indulged myself taking pictures of several butterflies and a moth on the butterfly bush.

Heck if I Know River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1295 Pipevine Swallowtail River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1290 Silver-spotted Skipper River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1276 Snowberry Clearwing Moth River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1285 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1300 Fiery Skipper River Ridge Observatory August 2016 1282


Three Day Old Moon with Jupiter, August 5, 2016

Here is a young moon, just three days old with the planet Jupiter which is rapidly heading away from us and toward the far side of the Sun. Canon EOS Rebel 5, 300mm lens, 1/60 second, ISO – automatic, hand-held leaning on car.Three Day Old Moon August 5, 2016 August 2016 1236