Category Archives: Astronomy

Z72’s first contribution to science

On Christmas Eve the Catalina sky survey spotted an object that had not been seen before. Shortly after McDonald observatory in Texas confirmed the object and further observations were needed to help nail down it’s orbit.

We had clear skies on Christmas night so I checked the Minor Planet Center NEO page to see if there were any possible targets and sure enough the object, provisionally called UY31A3B, was within the range of my equipment. Continue reading Z72’s first contribution to science

Some astrophotography

I’ve recently tried taking some long exposure images just to see how the observatory handles the light pollution. To make life easier I’m using an Astronomik CLS-CCD filter with the DSLR. The one I currently have is for a t-ring, though since these images have worked out well I think I’ll get the clip in version to experiment with regular lenses. Continue reading Some astrophotography

Z72 Operational Software Setup – October 2013

Before I built the observatory I used to only use the laptop when I was going to try imaging. Now the laptop is almost always used unless I really am only doing visual astronomy and don’t want to bother with planetarium software, in which case the laptop and camera are a distraction to trying to glimpse the universe through Dublin’s light pollution. Here’s how I have things set up. This may not be ideal for you.

Continue reading Z72 Operational Software Setup – October 2013

Getting sharp focus with your telescope

Some friends after seeing a strangely cut bit of cardboard in the observatory suggested I write a blog post about it. Those of you who do astrophotography won’t need an introduction to the Bahtinov Mask, but this post might be of interest to the rest.

Getting focus right in astrophotography isn’t easy. Autofocus doesn’t work like it does for normal lenses. And judging it manually is error pone, you can estimate when a star looks like a point, but there is a large margin of error in that estimate, a bright star may look like a sharp point but the fainter stars may still will be blurry. This is especially true in poor seeing where star image blobs can look the same over a large focus range. Continue reading Getting sharp focus with your telescope

Observatory Code!

This morning I got this one line email from the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center:

Your site is now code Z72.

So Cademuir observatory is now officially recognised by the MPC! In order to obtain an observatory code it’s necessary to observe some minor planets (in the 1000-400,000 range) of varying magnitudes, at least a couple of times a night over at least a couple of nights and record their positions to an accuracy of within 1″. Using the (.25 scope with a focal reducer and a DSLR I was able to get most reading accurate to < 0.5″. I’ll post a full writeup of the process in future, for now I’m going to celebrate and hope for clear skies to see ISON in the morning!