A New Autoguider

In 2014, the head of CBSAP, USA Mr Stephen Ramsden donated a premium 127mm APO refractor telescope (with other stuff) to me so that can help me with more outreach programs. This telescope has shown the Sun to tens of thousands of people all across the province of Punjab. They include people found in public parks, kids in schools, colleges and universities. I have also used this scope countless time to see the night sky objects and to image moon, sun, planets and many dso. 

I am using this refractor telescope on my previosuly owned Celestron CGEM DX mount. Always wanted to use more potential of this scope. So i recently bought an autoguider scope which will attach with the big APO and give me a 'hands free' experience of imaging deep sky objects. The make is Orion and its an 80mm refractor. Here are the images from the unboxing event!

 

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Lahore Science Mela

Khwarizmi Science Society has taken such a giant leap forward in bringing public to the arena of pure scientific curiosity which you would have to see to believe it!

It will be held for two full days from 09:00am to 06:00pm, on 28-29 January, 2017 at Ali Auditorium, Lahore.

I, along with my good friends from Lahore Astronomical Society will be there with our many telescopes, astronomical cameras and more, for a massive outreach astronomy program for thousands of people, all day long.

For more informaiton, please visit the website of LSM, 2017.

http://lsm2017.org/

Here is a wonderful introduction made by KSS and Dr Sabieh Anwar.

Solar Outreach, Gujranwala

I was invited to a Madrassa in Gujranwala during their short course on "Ilm e Tauqeet"  (time keeping). 

Had a wonderful time there.. Talked a lot about Science and Astronomy to the students and teachers of the Madrassa. They asked great questions and a lot of them!

Next we went to the roof where my Halpha Solar Telescope was placed. We saw the sun and Solar Prominence in the eyeiece of the scope.

Came back home with a very happy astro heart :-) 

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Mouse in the Observatory

Yesterday i thought to get some Photometry data because the fog was not intense and the humidity was 70% in the evening. Little did i expect what was for me there in the observatory!

When i opened the Human Room, THIS is what i saw:

Two wires have been cut (marked with arrows, showing both ends) and some polystyrene sheet has been damaged. Immediately a picture of the mouse appeared in my mind.. this is bad!

I tried to find the mouse inside the room but it is filled with a million things. I knew he must be hiding now somewhere here and perhaps he is not even here right now but i had to do a thorough search.

Finally i found him.. the enemy was hiding deep in the back corner of the freezer. I tried to convince him logically that he cannot live on my planet and he should go back to his own but for some unknown reasons, he did not respond.

Then i had to do what an angry Samurai would do.. I threatened him with my martial arts skills. He got furious and suddenly jumped and started running everywhere. Believe me, when it moved, it moved faster than the speed of light (no disrespect to Einstein).

I tried to show him the outdoors respectfully but he was in no mood to move out. At one point, i lost him. Tried to locate him everywhere but in no vain. May be he has gone out of the room after all but i had to confirm it.

Suddenly i remembered that i have a Thermal Imaging Camera from Seek Thermal which can be attached to the iPhone. Immediately connected it and started scanning the room. It was not on the floor or behind the wires or tables.. perhaps the thermal camera cannot pick out his heat signature.

But then when i pointed the camera on the wall.. I saw this view:

Right is the normal view and left is what Thermal Camera is showing me. The devil was inside the wall!!! This is becoming so Tom and Jerry now!

I finally made so much noise and hits to the wall that he came out and after another 10 minutes or so of me being chasing him out, he finally decided to end my cardio and left with the grace of Splinter (yes, i was also a child once!)

New toy in Observatory

I always have survived with my mount for the last 12 years, without something that i thought is not needed.

Back in 2003. There were no GPS in mobile phones. I bought a Garmin GPS specially from USA to know my coordinates. It worked all fine!

Then Mobile phones introduced GPS and there was no need to have a separate GPS receiver. I have been using this whenever i want to locate the geo-position for any of my mount. It has been working fine!

But there is some project which need very accurate time registration in Photometry and Astrometry. I have been using internet atomic clocks to synchronize my computer clock so far. But i decided to get a proper dedicated GPS for my mount now.

It arrived today at the observatory and i have installed it in the mount tonight. It has a cable with it because GPS receiver works best when not in the vicinity of any metal which is what a mount if made of.

I turned on the mount, the Gemini 2 control indicated it has detected a GPS attached and has updated tit with the GPS data. Now there will be one less step in my setup for the imaging runs.

Changing Temperature's effect on focusing

When i connected the telescope and camera today with my computer, the TCF Focuser temperature readout showed the temperature of the telescope to be 18 C. I thought let's experiment on the temperature and defocusing simple relation.

I focused the telescope on a readout at 4,000, which is the position on the TCF auto focuser. Kept on imaging for a while and when the temperature went 2 degrees below at 17 C. I refocused again and got a number of 4,499.. so the focus has been shifted around 450 values.. this is a huge difference!

The following picture will illustrate it better.. Notice the pointed star in both images. The left shows the FWHM value of 3.45 at the temperature of 17 C, this is rather a blurry star now but it was at tight focus when i focused it at 19 C.

On the right is the same star at FWHM of 1.88 at 17 C but after refocusing.. this is much much better.

So with 2 degrees of temperature drop, the FWHM of the star increased from 1.88 to 3.45! This translates as a very accurately focused start to a poorly focused star. What i want to show is we need to constantly keep an eye on focusing. That is why the high end focusers come with the temperature compensation option.. I always keep my system at the temp compensation mode. This keeps on changing the focuser position by noticing the change in the temperature. TCF can detect a a change of a tenth of degree!

Oh and btw, for those who don't know know about it. FWHM is a widely used number to see how small a star is in any image. The lower number is always better. Web has a lot of sources about it.

Solar Outreach at Beaconhouse DHA

I went to Beaconhouse Phase 6 branch today and the students of grade 2 got to see the sun from Lunt Halpha Solar Telescope. They were very happy, rather stunned to see the sun in the eyepiece. I am sure many of them will become scientists or better Astronomers in the future!

Asteroid 468 Lina movie

Here is a 3 hours tracking of an asteroid which is having a prograde rotation around the sun right now.

Here is the combined image of all three hours of data. The trail is from this asteroid path it took in all this time. Sorry about the 'dust donuts'.. i did not apply flats to these images.

The autoguiding was doing great for all these 187 images that were stitched in this animation.

Telescope: Celestron C14

Camera: SBIG ST9XE

Filter: Luminance

22 Kelliope Asteroid observation

On the night of 13 October 2016, i observed an asteroid 22 Kelliope from 02:01am to 03:24am in 700-900nm wavelength band. My CCD camera was at -20 Celcius. The focal length of my imaging system is now at 4390mm and the image scale is 0.94 arcseconds per pixel. 

Here is the path of this asteroid in stacked 114 images of 30 seconds of each exposure.

The line is the path which asteroid was on. You can tell that it was getting brighter on its way 'up'.

Here is the lightcurve of its 200nm Infrared band.

X axis is time in Julian Date and Y axis is Instrumental Magnitude scale.

You can see that when i started taking data, the asteroid was dimming and then it rose to almost half magnitude. This lightcurve shows the rotation of about one and a half hour period.

X axis is time in Julian Date and Y axis is Skyglow in ADU (analogue to digital units)

Interestingly, the sky glow was decreasing with time. This is perhaps because the moon was setting in the west and the city lights were switching off.. but i am not sure of the reason yet.

Lunar Eclipse from Lahore

Part of the Earth's shadaw grazed the lunar landscape yesterday night. Here is a single image from CBSAP 127mm APO Triplet and Canon 6D. I passed it through Photoshop to add some sharpenening though.

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The Mighty Lunt 152!

Here is a view of my big Solar Telescope.. The Mighty Lunt 152mm (6 inch lens), which shows (only) the photons being emitted at Hydrogen Alpha line which is 656.281 nano-meter. And this is where all the action of hot plasma (soraj se nikalti hoi aag) really is.

Lunt 152 just minutes before Solar Outreach at AIMC, Lahore. 

Lunt 152 just minutes before Solar Outreach at AIMC, Lahore. 

Official Inauguration of Zeds 2.0

"On this date; the 6th day of April, the year 2016 A.D"
To celebrate the official inauguration of Zeds 2.0, Aamna Saleem brought this cosmic version of a cheesecake. Thank you, Aamna!

To celebrate the official inauguration of Zeds 2.0, Aamna Saleem brought this cosmic version of a cheesecake. Thank you, Aamna!

It is finally ready! The extension to the original Zeds Astronomical Observatory, after 12 years of the initial observatory construction, is finally here! Enter: Zeds 2.0 ! An observatory that can house 3 telescopes at any given time, ready for use.

Cutting the celebratory cake for Zeds 2.0

Cutting the celebratory cake for Zeds 2.0


The inauguration day was celebrated by setting up Sameer Rashid Shami's Celestron 8SE telescope on top of the Celestron AVX mount. Sameer had waited a really long time (almost a year) before the appropriate testing could be done (water proofing, electrical wiring and gauging weathering effects) to allow moving in the equipment. 

The Celestron 8SE on top of the Celestron AVX mount; looking rather ominous!

The Celestron 8SE on top of the Celestron AVX mount; looking rather ominous!

The observatory has a roll-off roof that is more than twice the size of the original telescope room for, what can now safely be assumed to be Zeds 1.0! Currently it houses 2 telescopes. One being Sameer's 8" SCT on a Celestron AVX mount, the other being CBSAP 127mm Apochromatic refractor on a Celestron CGEM mount.

First light image from the new observatory. This image shows the galaxy pair M51 also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, named after its conspicuous display of beautiful spiral arms. What is also evident is a smaller companion galaxy seen up top that is in a cosmic ballet with the bigger, more massive partner below.  Image credits: Sameer Rashid Shami Telescope and Camera: Celestron 8SE, SBIG STF8300 monochrome CCD Autoguider: SBIG STI monochrome CCD

First light image from the new observatory. This image shows the galaxy pair M51 also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, named after its conspicuous display of beautiful spiral arms. What is also evident is a smaller companion galaxy seen up top that is in a cosmic ballet with the bigger, more massive partner below. 
Image credits: Sameer Rashid Shami
Telescope and Camera: Celestron 8SE, SBIG STF8300 monochrome CCD
Autoguider: SBIG STI monochrome CCD

In the coming days, in addition to imaging galaxies, star clusters and planets, the new observatory is planned to be used for gathering photometric as well as spectroscopic data for stars and star clusters as well as astrometric data for Asteroids and Comets.

Bright days (or rather, dark nights) await us in the future!

LET THE OBSERVATIONS, BEGIN!

M13, Globular Cluster

 
 

M13 Globular Cluster (NGC 6205), also known as Great Hercules Cluster, is a globular star cluster about 25,000 light years ( 2.36*10^17 km) away from us. It is first discovered by the famous Edmund Halley in 1714, who wrote:

"it shows itself to the naked eye when the sky is serene and the Moon absent"

William Herschel mentioned it in these words:

.. most beautiful cluster of stars, exceedingly compressed in the middle and very rich"

A distance of 25k light years and with the angular diameter of 23 arcminutes, the actual size of this cluster comes out about 150 light years. Towards the center, the star density is about 500 times more than our own solar neighbourhood. If there is a planet in the center of the cluster, the night sky would be blazing with literally thousands of stars much brighter than Sirius and Venus. 

M13 Cluster is also famous because, once we have sent a radio signal to supposed Aliens in this cluster!

Omega Centauri is the largest Globular Cluster in our Milyway Galaxy.. here is the comparison of M13 with Omega Centauri:

This image is a work in progress and I would be collecting more data of this cluster in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Equipment:

  1. Celestron C14
  2. SBIG ST9XE
  3. SBIG AO8
  4. Astrodon Luminance Filter
  5. Maxim DL
  6. Photoshop

2 hours of exposure, subs: 120 sec