Rosette nebula from the balcony

Still in lockdown and not allowed to go out at night (curfew). My balcony has only limited views to the south, so there’s not much choice in objects to image. And with unusual amounts of snow on the ground the skies are even worse than the usual Bortle 8/9, but the Optolong L-eXtreme filter is a powerful tool.

Canon EOS Ra, William Optics Star 71mm, f=348mm, Optolong l-eXtreme dual narrow band filter, 38x2min, ISO1600. Rainbow Astro RST-135 mount on Gitzo GT4553S, guiding and polar alignment with Staraid Revolution autoguider.

2020-04, comets from city center.

Tried to image a couple of comets from my parents’ backyard, a 5 minute walk from my own apartment. With over 200,000 inhabitants the light pollution in the city of Almere is huge. Naked eye limit is approximately magnitude +4, so visual observations are limited to the moon and planets. Nevertheless I was succesvol in imaging the currently visible comets: C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS) and C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). Equipment used was a William Optics Star 71 telescope (71mm, f=348mm) and EOS R camera mounted on a Rainbow Astro RST-135 mount. Also tried the new software for the Staraid autoguider with the new option guiding on objects like comets. For the last images I installed my good old IDAS Light Pollution Suppression filter inside the telescope.

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2019-May, Tivoli, Namibia.

Another visit to Tivoli Southern Guest farm. This year I decided to go for the New Moon period of april/may coinciding with the maximum of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

My friend Hendrik joined me for a week and brought along his newly developed standalone guiding camera Staraid Revolution. This guide camera does not require a laptop or pc, but can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet. It starts up and calibrates in seconds, tracks up to twenty stars multiple times per second and is very accurate and foolproof. Besides guiding, this camera also contains a simple to use polar alignment procedure and does plate solving. Very impressed with this little camera!

I also got the opportunity to test and use a new ASA 10″ F=900mm Hypergraph with 3″ Wynne corrector. It came equipped with a Canon EF adapter, so I used my Canon 6D mark for a number of nights. The focuser is Ascom compliant but I used the simple focus program ASA provided, side-by-side with the live view utility of Canon. However, focus remained very stable during the night, even with a temperature drop of 10 degrees.

Mirror cleansing

After a number of years of use, the mirror of the observatory’s 30 cm (12″) telescope was in need of a thorough cleansing.  We used distilled water to soak the surface of the mirror and to get rid of insects, pollen and other dirt. More water was used for a final rinse. The central hole of the mirror shows signs of wear and oxidation, so we probably need to have it recoated in the near future. With a brush we wiped the inside of the tube clean, after which the original matt finish re-appeared.