Sunday, February 23, 2020

Best Spirals Ever!

It was a spiral galaxy type of night.

The sky was dark and moonless. Its transparency was excellent.

With this, I was able to see the spiral arms on M81, one the two galaxies known as Bode's Nebula.  Usually, I can only see M81 as a blob of light.

M81 Bode's Nebula


M81 with its spiral arms
M81 is more than just a blob.

A Simple Mod

While playing with the latest CPWI beta, it became clear that I needed to make a modification to my Cat.

It's a simple modification and a cheap modification.  And it will prevent enormous frustration when using the scope in the field.

It's a binder clip
I added a small binder clip to provide strain relief on the USB cable from the laptop to the hub on the focus motor.

Not only does this hub provide control over the focuser, it also controls the movement of the scope.  Tracking, alignment, and slewing to target operations are sent from the laptop via this cable.  

The cable normally hangs from  a USB type B connector on the underside of the focuser housing, just begging to be pulled out.  This strain relief prevents that.

What simple mods have you done to your scope?


Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Ring and a Cigar!

Friday evening, we had a break in the rainy weather.  Yay!

And the sky was dark with excellent transparency. 

So, I loaded up on coffee and rolled the Cat out into the driveway.  It sure is nice to have it on wheels.  It is a little tough negotiating it through the doorway to the garage and down the ramp, but I think I've got the procedure down now.

Love the wheels.

This is not the droid you are looking for...
The astronomy session started out as just an opportunity to wring out some new equipment and software, but I did get to observe a new (to me) planetary nebula and an oddly shaped and colored galaxy!

So, what did I see?  A couple of highlights are below.

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The Great Conjunction of 2020

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