Kalium Observatory and New Gear

So, this week I got a few pieces of astrophotography equipment/accessories.

  1. Orion StarShoot Solar System Color Imaging Camera IV – basically a webcam on steroids. This replaces a telescope eyepiece and connects directly to my mac for image capture. The camera resolution is quite low, 1280×960 pixels [1.2mp], but with a 1/3″ micron color cmos sensor and 3.6×3.6um pixel size [I think this is micrometer].
  2. Hyperion M42/T-2 Adapter – for use with Hyperion lenses which are outfitted with threading to attach a DSLR with and eyepiece to a telescope
  3. Celestron T-Adapter and T-Ring for my Nikon, to attach the DSLR to telescopes at prime focus [replacing the eyepiece with the camera, thus making the telescope a giant lens].

I’m hopeful to capture my 2012 images of Saturn on the weekend of April 15th, when the planet will be at opposition, yet need a telescope!

Alden will meet with me soon to show me how to use the old C8 [Celestron 8″] that belongs to the club, which I will borrow [see C8 post]. I’m somewhat concerned about collimation, finding objects manually [this isn’t a go-to scope], and focusing, but I ought to learn how to use a scope manually, no?

Club member Ron Haughey met with me and Peter MacKinnon last night to show us how the Kalium dome, telescope and software work [Peter pretty much already knows, but came for review since he’s hosting the public drop-in tonight].

The telescope at Kalium is a Meade LX200 using ACP software to synch and track as a Go-To scope. This means that the software and telescope mount motor are synched, and the telescope can track objects in the sky without much fuss. Last night I opened the dome [pulled on a big chain trying not to catch my fingers on the gear], centred Venus, synched the scope to the software and set it to track. Fantastic!! Ron will loan me keys to use the observatory on the opposition weekend, and since there is roof access I can also bring the C8 and test both methods of photography [prime dslr; dslr with the Hyperion 24mm that Peter will loan me and/or with the Hyperion 8-24mm zoom the club owns, and the Solar System Imager IV] with both telescopes. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to capture some usable images for 2012, year two of the orbital photography project.

In the meanwhile, I’ll go to the pubic viewing session tonight with my new imaging tools and see what I can’t see.

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