• 20130327 - the 5 year old plastic shed up against the observatory failed in the winter due to a high snow load. The roof collasped. We will attempt to put a new roof covering overtop of it in the spring.
  • 20100524 - empty observatory, pull up floorboard and discover north pier concrete cracked. attempted to fix by putting in concrete patch filler. reinforced floor, added insultation and plywood floor to counteract warping decking. Left channels in floor for cables (110vac, 12vdc, USB). Put carpet back down again. Much better! Will be warmer floor, no cables and maybe less mice.
  • 20091215 - observatory still remarkably clear of snow after a week of high winds and blowing snow.
  • 20091109 - installed two more sets of rolloff roof wheels to see if it gets any easy to move the roof... as it is getting stiff in places. When halfway open the three sets of center wheels are no longer in contact with the rails... the centre of the observatory/rail structure is sinking? Try to jack and shim it up a bit. Also found small mouse food store in one of the bins.
  • 20091108- Kim put together her vixen dovetail with a custom 1/4x20 bolt to attach the coronado to the Synta EQ4/CG5 mount. Rock steady but needs a bit more support at the point of contact. Now we can move the Meade DS90 OTA back onto its mount as the coronado was using it up to now.
  • 20091010 - observatory holding up well. new floor overlay scheduled for next week. must remove all interior contents first, then carpet. secure decking first then install styrofoam with channels for cables then cut plywood to overlay with narrow channels to get cables in and out? then relay carpet.
  • 20090925 - discovered that northeastern pier is now moving around.. must be repaired.
  • 20081101 - out observing at the eyepiece for the first time in ages. Tried out the new Meade DS2090 90cm refractor. Placed the scope in the home position (pointing north and level). Started up Autostar II and did a two star alignment on Aldebaran and Vega. Then went to Jupiter starting with the 25mm (fl=800mm =x32) and worked our way through 20mm (x40), 17mm (x47), 12mm (x67), 6mm (x133). The eyepieces were all Meade MA made mostly of plastic. The 25mm threads were no good and the eyepiece came apart. The tripod is pretty sturdy and the mount not too bad. But the refractor is so long (long moment arm) that at anything approaching x50 or higher and it shakes a lot. even with no wind. The altaz motor system is constantly in action and does make a fair bit of noise. In the quiet dark of night, it can get irritating.
    The scope runs on 8 AA batteries (=12vdc) which I suspect may not last too long. Then again the 20cm LX200GPS runs off of 8 D batteries. So far we've had this one running for about an hour inside after assembly and about an hour outside in -5degC temps.
    With Jupiter there was a lot of chromatic aberration but after observing other objects farther away from the horizon we decided most of it was caused by the thick atmosphere. All in all the optics were not to bad. We will replace the eyepieces with others that we have, plossls and superplossls and erfles. The eyepieces are 5/4" | BTW. We were able to make out equatorial bands at x67, At x133 we were not able to focus.
    Some of our other targets of the night (SQM=21.01 @21:00EDT) were M31 Andromeda, M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra, Alberio, M45 Pleiades, and Uranus. By this time it had hit -7degC, which was a little much considering that we were still acclimated to 35 degC in Mexico and hadn't found all of our winter clothes.
    Iridium flares for the next while tend to be in the late afternoon (4-6pm EST) and ISS passes are all in early morning (4-5am EST).
  • 20080910 - moved the allsky camera workstation out of the observatory and into the observatory shed, Ran the SBIG driver checker utility and there are new drivers.
    Existing drivers:             updated drivers
    sbigudrv.dll 4.57 09-19-07    4.60 build2 06-25-08
    sbigudrv.sys 4.06 08-23-02    4.06
    sbiguldr.sys 2.44 09-05-07    1.46 01-23-08
    sbigusbe 1.1 09-05-03         1.1
    
    CCDSoft v5.00.071
  • 20080906 - observatories tend to get full of stuff.. useful stuff but stuff nonetheless. Today we put together another storage shed abutting up against the observatory to hold some of that stuff that is not immediately used every day. This one is a low profile resin shed that will allow the roll off roof to pass overhead. This one is about 7'w by 6' deep by 50" high
  • 20080222 - Total Lunar Eclipse - setup Kim's new Video camera in the Bausch and Lomb SC with composite video going into a VCR, protected from the cold by being inside a chart table, and displaying on an old 5" B&W CRT TV. We got about 4 hours taped along with a lot of images from our 6mp Canon Power shot A540 x4optical camera on a tripod for 15sec expsores and handheld up to the eyepiece in our 20cm dobsonian.
  • 20080210 - new lighting working well.. still needs another blocking layer to stop direct light. Big wind storms blowing snow from all directions, only a little drifting inside. Mostly northeast wall.
  • 20080112 - ripped out red LED christmas bulb lighting and replaced with red LED rope light.. about 15' worth along the back wall and along most of the south side. Tore down the broken southeast flippy board and installed a pressure treated 5/4x6x10 foot. Removed two small hinges, installed three large hinges. Had to notch the board a little to make it fit. Removed Pull handle, moved Pull rope.
  • 20071106 Tuesday - out before sunrise to see Comet P17Holmes, Mercury just popping over the eastern horizon and some wonderful conjunction images of The Moon, Venus, Saturn, Leo and Light Pollution from Kingston
  • 20071103 Saturday - major renovations to observatory. Moved centrally located computer stand to the far left side and reattached temporarily. Accidentally discovered deermouse nest in a set of drawers. Opened it up, it jumped out and scared the (*@&#$ out of me. Built a new workspace surface, approx 48" wide x18" deep and mounted it in the centre, slightly tiled down. Added 1/4 round on bottom and sides. Mounted a second shelf underneath that, approx 31" wide x 14" deep. Threw some mothballs underneath the observatory. Repaired SCO observatory computer .. now has sound. Added powered speakers for musical entertainment in the dark.
  • 20071028 Sunday - moved 2w solar panel from roof powering exhaust fan to south side wall to trickle charge 12vdc observatory battery. Need to renovate inside to move computer stand off to side and install new angled work surface with lighting. Several days of observing Comet P17/Holmes since 2007 Oct 25-present, morning and evening whenever it was clear.
  • 20070902 Sunday 4am Mars in the Southeast. at x130 with our 20cm we did pick up a surface detail.
  • 20070901 Saturday evening Jupiter and 3 moons showing looking spectacular with the asteroid Vesta nearby.
  • 20070716 Monday - asteroid Henrietta 225 (mag 12.5) occultation of star TYC1065-00745-1 mag 10.6. We were 100+km south of centre line, not expected to see event and did not see the event. Our Atomic clock would not sync but we were able to calibrate up against a temporarily received 10MHz WWV signal.. it was 24 seconds slow. Researching GPS time inserters: KIWI $165USD+, GPS Garmin 18 price?, video camera price? etc.etc.
  • 20070515 Wednesday - completed a new mount for the 20cm Starbuck dobsonian telescope. The new stand is 19.5" taller and allows Kim to use the eyepiece when the telescope is pointing at zenith while standing straight up. This minimizes the bending over amount and is alo much more stable than the milk crate we have been using for the last year. The mount goes on a concrete pad and is painted white and coated with exterior varathane so we can see about leaving the mount outside all of the time.
  • 20070114 Sunday - teflon pads and formica for a roof sliding mechanism has finally been deemed unworkable... today we added four dual wheel nylon low profile "furniture" coaster sets to the roof. Had to realign all of the roof-wind interlocks and add a "flippy board" to the southeastern roof segment to cover the gap. The sidewalls (southwest and norhteast) still work not too bad (2"x4") but need replacing with 5/4x6" boards to extend down further. More work on the robodome. Removed shutter using emergency screws, plugged in the dome hand controller after running the cable through the floor. The hand controller is stored inside a plastic bin under the platform, for emergency access. It took an hour to get the (*@&#^%@ shutter back on again. swapped serial cables for the lx200 and the ddw and no luck on the software ddw side.. still can't see the hardware. Installed weather sensors on dome but couldn't find out where they were supposed to plug in... have to find the manual again and do some reading :) Removed the battery jumper cables which we used previously to power the dome and the shutter.
  • 20061230 Saturday - Extended lighting valance and added foam sheets to completely block line of sight to the red LED lights running across the northwest wall. Placed some of the lights under the CRT to illuminate the keyboard as well. Tested the oldest PC Supercircuits ccd camera exvision camera.. seems to be dead dead dead. Tested the new Watec WAT-902HS camera without the rainbox lens and it performs much better in low light. Suspect the rainbow lens L163VDC4P 1.6mm-3.4mm 1:1.4 DC CS F1.4 autoiris feature is defective. For now will install the Starlightcascade AllSkyCam using the watec WAT-902HS camera and our own rainbow S16mm f1.4 lens coupled to a optex ovl241 hemispheric wide angle video lens 37mm/27mm
  • 20061225 - Removed old AllSky Camera1 platform (closest dome) and the old weather station (black anemometer).
  • 20061224 Sunday - Finished building new stand for 17" CRT to share between 3 workstations. Installed under counter keyboard tray. 12vdc Battery corroded along with alligator clips. Cleaned, replaced, rewired with new battery terminal clamps, 5 amp inline fuse on positive wire, quick release connectors on both pos/neg cables. Repositioned 12vdc power tap and connected the voltmeter display, the 12vdc 1watt muffin fan on the concam housing, the 12vdc power for the allsky camera, and finally repositioned the solar panel for winter and having it charge the battery. The 2.2w panel is not rated for outdoor use and is showing some housing cracks. The Concam dome without the fan was completely condensed all day. The fan is a little noisy but you can at least tell that it is running. The housing has swelled a little since it went outdoors and needs some slight adjustments. Built the 2nd CPU housing for the allsky workstations. This one has shorted cables and actually needs a door on the back end as opposed to just a slit.
  • 20061118-08.jpg2006 November 18 - finished burying two 1.5" PVC conduits (one for 110vac power and the other for data cables: 5m USB Active repeater Cable, two cat5 ethernet cables, two serial cables) running from the starlightcascade observatory to the robodome platform. Stained the platform, put down a caulking bead and remounted the robodome to the platform. Installed a $10 webcam inside robodome "webcam2"
  • 20060717-02
    Received the Exploring the Universe Certificate Program from the RASC). Completed it two months back but the committee was a little behind in processing the applications. Two months after the Ottawa General Assembly, the door prize I won finally arrived. The SBIG ST402E camera is a nice USB cooled camera that we hope to try out soon.
  • 20060409
    The last 7 days have been too busy, cloudy and snowing to observe. The moon is 11.9 days old and identifying features is becoming more difficult (I am working through the lunar section of my Exploring the Universe Certificate Program from the RASC). Better to do these in the days before or after a new moon. The images were taken with out Fuji 3mpixel digital camera, which is not a great astrophotography device. The focus was set to infinity with the scenic program and handheld up against a 25mm eyepiece (x48) giving a full lunar disk and then some black space around it. The first few exposures were overexposed, so I switched over to manual control and underexposed by 2.1 stops. Luckily the focus held. The optical zoom of the camera was set to widest angle. Complete the lunar impact craters section (6 of 12) and am moving onto the double stars section. See the images from the observing run.
  • 20060402
    We received our brand new (ok.. slightly used) 8" f6 Sky-Watcher dobsonian telescope today.. Thanks to Norm and Mark! and went outside the same night to try it out. Very Nice! Lightweight enough for one person to move around, unlike the 10" RASC-KC Douglas dobsonian, which is a little too big. See the images from the observing run.
  • 20051021
    Images of Mars, testing out digital cameras and optical and digital zoom to the extreme limits to see exactly what it is we get out of them.
  • 20041027
    The Total Lunar Eclipse of October 27th, 2004. We had a special KAON Public Observing Session at the Queen's University Ellis Hall Observatory. These images were taken with our Fuji S3000 camera through the RASC-KC 8" LX200GPS telescope.
  • 20040608
    The Transit of Venus across the Sun on June 8th, 2004. A crack team of RASC-KC members headed out in the wee morning hours to record this twice in a lifetime event. We videotaped the sun coming up over the western end of Loborough Lake, north of Kingston.

    file: log-observ.htm