Swansea Astronomical Society Blog

Saturday, December 25, 2010

 

Andrew Sprott's astronomical software in 2010

During 2010 SAS member Andrew Sprott has produced software that has been published in the SPA magazine 'Popular Astronomy'. Andrew has worked with Steve Wainwright on the programs with Steve working on specifications, algorithms and testing, but Andrew has done the hard, skilled work of coding it up into useable programs.
Popular Astronomy, April-June issue 2010
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This article is about a program called Dark-Frame-Scaler, essential for frame-accumulating videography of deep-sky objects.

Popular Astronomy, September-December issue 2010

This article is about a program called 'CAP' (Colour Alignment Processor) that can be used to construct RGB colour images from monochrome images taken through red, green and blue filters. It can also be used to correct for atmospheric chromatic dispersion that produces red and blue edges to colour planetary images.
A new version of this program called AUTOCAP has now been completed. This version is completely automatic. Look out for this in 2011.
Whenever you see on this site a H-alpha solar image showing both details of the solar disk and prominences, it is highly likely that Andrew Sprott's 'Solar Layers' program will have been used to combine images exposed differently for the disk and prominences. Similarly images of the Orion nebula showing both details of the trapezium and the large clouds of luminosity in the rest of the nebula, may well have been processed in Andrew's 'FIC', (Flexible Image Combine) software.
Andrew is now working on ideas for a new computer environment in which software can be developed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

 

Afocal imaging and the Moon December 22

It is possible to get quite good images of the Moon by using afocal techniques (photographing through the eyepiece). The choice of eyepiece can be important as is the level of zoom used with the camera to avoid vignetting. These things can be improved with experience. There are a number of afocal mounting devices (often called digiscoping mounts) that allow a digital camera to be attached to an eyepiece to facilitate the afocal process. Here is a simple device attaching a digital compact camera to a 25mm eyepiece that has been placed on a 5" Maksutov:
Remember to click on an image to get a larger view:


The image can be framed in the camera preview screen and focused. Then the 10s timer is used so that vibrations dampen down after the shutter is pressed and before the exposure is made. This is the view from above and to the side:


Here are some results obtained this way:

Can you see the cat on the Moon?





Focus, of course, is everything and patience is needed to get it right.
Happy Christmas one and all.
Steve Wainwright

Sunday, December 19, 2010

 

Daytime Moon and Jupiter

On Saturday 18th, using a newly discovered method of daytime aligning a Synscam AZ GOTO mount, the Moon and then Jupiter were located in a daytime sky. The Moon, of course, was visible, but Jupiter could not be seen with the naked eye in the blue sky.
A DMK camera was placed at the prime focus of a 5", f/5 Newtonian and two ends of the Moon were imaged.

Copernicus area


Tycho area


Daytime Jupiter through a 3x Barlow

Look carefully and you will see some of Jupiter's moons.


A candid shot ... hmmm !




Nikki Mackin

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