Saturday, January 2, 2016

Luling Skies Observatory, First Light

Friday Dec 18 provided clear skies and a wonderful opportunity for my first viewing in my new observatory.   The roof rolls off smoothly to offer a wide open view of the sky.  At 80" above the floor, the walls are higher than in most observatories, but in my light polluted backyard the walls provide a much needed light block from nearby streetlights.

Here is an inside view.  I haven't built any shelves yet so my gear is piled on the floor and a table.

Here is my Mallincam VRC-10 CF ready for a night of visual observing.   My daughter Heather came over and we had a great time until clouds rolled in a little after midnight.  The observatory worked out well and was a big improvement from setting up in the yard.

On Saturday night, December 19,  I slid my Mallincam XT-418 into the scope's focuser.  With this scope and no focuser rings installed, I've learned that I cannot achieve focus using the Mallincam 2" 0.75 focal reducer.  After some experimentation, I've found what works is placing a Baader Planetarium 2" Deluxe Clicklock Eyepiece Extension in the focuser, then the Mallincam 2" 0.75 focal reducer followed by a Baader Planetarium 2" / 1.25" Clicklock Reducer, and then the camera with a Lumicon Deep Sky Filter threaded onto the nose piece.

After getting the equipment running, I had some difficulty with a newly updated version of the Miloslick Mallincam control software.  I finally got it figured out and went to the Orion nebula as my first object.   I've gotten better pics previously, but this is the best I could manage on this night.  Given the size of the object I needed further focal reduction, but with clouds threatening I didn't take the time to change my setup.

 I viewed the flame and horsehead nebulas and the Pleadies before clouds rolled in and ended my observing session.  It was a pleasure to simply shut down the electricity, close the roof, and head inside.  Much better than spending the next hour tearing down the equipment and stowing it away.   I look forward to many more observing sessions in my backyard observatory.

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