•2011/03/08 • Comments Off on Welcome!

Thank you for visiting. I hope that my forays into telescope making and amateur astronomy can somehow assist others in their quest to learn more about this wonderful hobby.

– Jason Hissong

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Astronomical Society
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A Slippery Slope…

•2015/04/27 • Leave a Comment

After a long hiatus (9 years), I am back to imaging again.  One of the reasons I withdrew from collecting photons electronically was that I found I was missing one of my primary joys of amateur astronomy and that is visual observing.  Visually extracting faint puffs of light in a galaxy cluster is thrilling for me.  When I imaged, I was spending too much time fiddling with the various interconnections and components to get a shaky imaging rig to fulfill my desire to be the next Rob Gendler.  Thinking if I buy just one more device to get me there, I slowly began to realize that I was slipping down into a money pit.  I decided in 2006 to sell my gear and get back to visual astronomy. This was about the time I started to get interested in telescope making.  Some of my earlier work:




Today, I am finding my ability (and motivation) to get to darker skies is somewhat hampered for various reasons (i.e. getting older) so I need to find locations that are more convenient and unfortunately afflicted by light pollution.  Since I am a deep sky enthusiast, this can hinder my ability to visually probe deeper into the cosmos with my telescope.  Don’t get me wrong, I still try to get out to darker skies when I can, but those times seem to be more an exception than before.  Remembering the fun (and conveniently forgetting the frustrations) of imaging, I decided to get back into it again, albeit slowly.

My previous imaging rig was modest, and it took some care and understanding to get through the quirks of the mount and drive, but I was able to get some nice images out of my Ultima 2000 and ST7E.  About two years ago, I started acquiring items that I knew would make it easier to image with such as shorter focal length refractors.  So I picked up a Stellarvue SV80ED at a star party.  I already had a 66mm Zenithstar so I was thinking that could be used for a guide scope.  I bought a used Advanced GT mount that was supercharged by a previous owner which should be adequate for a shorter focal length telescope.  I have a Meade DSI that I could either start with, or use it as a guide camera in the future.

In keeping with the spirit of easing back into it to save my sanity and my bank account (oh yeah, and my marriage) I bought a smaller, lower cost, camera:  An Orion G3 monochrome.  I debated whether or not I should get a one-shot color camera, but I decided on the monochrome for maximum flexibility and the ability to do some potential science (I like variable stars).  I set the rig up and started capturing photons.


After some tweaking (and the awkward first two sessions) I was able to get some fairly decent images.  Here are a couple of examples from the lawn of Perkins Observatory at the April society meeting:



As you can see, I still have a ways to go as I am getting to know a new imaging processing workflow and I need to start making flat fields.  My previous workflow included acquiring the images in Maxim/DL, calibrating, aligning, and stacking the images in ImagesPlus, and do final processing in Photoshop.  However, I went ahead and picked up Pixinsight for processing and Sequence Generator Pro for acquisition.  I still use Maxim/DL to stack and calibrate, but that will change once I get more experienced with Pixinsight.

Getting semi-good results early has encouraged me to take the next steps.  I picked up a Nautilus filter wheel (I already had some filters from the DSI) and have set my sights on an Atik 314L+.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

I stand precariously on sloped ground.

Clear Skies,

Alberio 2 Rising

•2015/03/09 • Leave a Comment
Alberio 2 Rising

Alberio 2 Rising

Globular Rising

•2015/03/09 • Leave a Comment
Globular Rising

Globular Rising


•2015/03/09 • Leave a Comment


High Above Lake Erie

•2015/03/09 • Leave a Comment
High above Lake Erie

High above Lake Erie

Meteor Burst Communications and the Perseid Meteor Shower

•2014/08/13 • Leave a Comment

Meteor Scatter at N8XELooking at the forecast, I knew this evening would not be a night to enjoy the annual Perseid Meteor Shower visually.  Plus, a nearly full moon would wash out all but the brightest meteors.  So what does one do in this situation?  Try their hand at Meteor Burst Communications!

Many may not realize that you can bounce radio waves off of the ionization left over from meteors that burn through our atmosphere.  When you see these visually, it is the green “afterglow” that is left behind.  The brightest of meteors leave a very distinctive trail.  There are many more that are not seen visually, but the short burst can still be used to effectively communicate.  With computers with soundcards, and the appropriate software, signals can be transmitted and received on a semi regular basis. The government has been using it for a while now in remote locations in Alaska and amateur radio operators use it to communicate long distances via VHF frequencies.

So to make lemonade out of lemons, I was able to enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower even when it was cloudy.  I was able to contact a station in Massachusetts and Minnesota.



•2014/07/22 • Leave a Comment
First Light With the New Mirror Box

First Light With the New Mirror Box

After a couple coats of Rustoleum paint, I assembled the mirror box and tried it out for the first time.  I was worried that the truss poles would be too short because the truss seats were farther apart than they were when I used three struts.  I discovered that my concern was unfounded.  All my eyepieces came to focus.  The balance was slightly off, but nothing a few pounds on the mirror box would not fix.

I am glad that I have gone with a classic mirror box with eight struts.  The new configuration is solid as a rock, I can use a shroud without having to use something to keep the shroud out of the light path and I can use my mirror cell.  I will post some more detailed pictures of the finished mirror box and telescope soon.


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