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Log, Aug 20, 1999

Monday: The last glitches that prevented us from using the CCD imager last Friday have been overcome. The radio tower in the northwest was the first successful target. Guess what it looks like a lot of steel girders and supports. Joe was also able to make images of M22 and M8 which are really fine for our first attempt.

Joe also managed to establish the HOME/PARK alignment in the telescope so that we won't lose alignment every time we power down at night. Everyone who powers up and powers down will have to use this standard setup to allow us to see targets the next week without great hassle.

The "derotator" has been mounted and we have discovered that it acts as an efficient counterweight to the dew shield. We plan to leave it mounted whether it is activated or not. Mounting and dismounting it changes the telescope balance dramatically. In addition, the focal point of the system is radically changed making initializations with it removed a hassle.

Thursday: Another Meade owner tipped us off to an excellent feature. Press the sequence [STAR] [ENTER] to get a star menu.

We are beginning to realize how little we know about There's a whole new terminology like binning, blooming, bias frames and flat fields. Much work needs to be done on setting up the CCD/flip mirror/eyepiece setup so that we have a parfocal setup. As expected, the color wheel does change the relationship of the pieces. Fortunately the 1.25" extender helps greatly with this task. We need a good focus on the CCD first will go a long way in diminishing frustrations with imaging. The HA-50 included with the CCD is an IR (infrared) blocking filter that is useful to assure correct colors are rendered with tricolor imaging using common filters that leak IR. It is also useful for general B&W imaging to minimize IR contributions that may produce unexpected results, such as nova looking stars where none exist. You screw it in next to the 416 optical window behind the special long T-thread to 1-1/4" adapter. We have a recommendation that says leave it on! It sounds like it would help with a few bothersome things, like the blooming in images of M8 and abortive attempts to image Mars last night. One problem with using the computer as a "pre display" is what's currently in the scope's eyepiece is that the flip mirror setup precludes the use of our 2" eyepieces. Using them will change the focus. It is easier to change eyepieces than take off the whole flip mirror / CCD assembly and exchange it with the 2" diagonal for lower power viewing. After I gave up on the CCD last night and did some observing, Joe had a fine time viewing M81 and M82. The thinner one (M81?) looking very nice indeed in the 12 mm Nagler. It was a nice night, even with the bright moon.

Friday: 11 people. Our visitors were unable to see anything due to the heavy cloud layer which later turned into a cloud burst. We got a chance to check out our tarpaulins when a bit of rain started to seep down the furnicular onto the floor. I was glad we had a new tarp for the computer.

With the evening's viewing totally washed out, we held an impromptu meeting of the FDO staff. Art, Dave, Joe and I batted around ideas from "docent nights", to opening another evening for limited hours, to enticing new members to join us and how to sell off surplus equipment from the StarFire on down to .962" items which are totally useless to us. A good deal of time was spent with Joe (and to a lesser degree myself) demonstrating some of the new software and the lash ups between the new PC and the scope. Everything worked as planned.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Aug 20, 1999
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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