Damian

An ‘Astronomy’ related day – plus… I met an astronaut!

I started my day today photographing ceramics at Richard Winterton Auctioneers ready for the next sale later in the month.

One of the early lots was this pair of Clarice Cliff vases with a space theme:

Later in the day I found Jon, our resident toy expert looking through some old newspapers, he’s here, hiding behind this one!

and..

I left work early as Julie had got us both tickets to Lichfield’s Guild Hall to see a talk by retired NASA astronaut, Winston Scott.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_E._Scott

It was a 5.30 opening for a 6.00pm start. We arrived just after opening and I was surprised to see the back of a man in a blue jump-suit… the man himself.

Considering Winston and his wife had only just flown into the UK and had been travelling most of the day, he had a big smile and seemed genuinely happy to meet and greet us (and everyone else) on our arrival. Julie and I had chance to talk with him before his presentation and I said I was a member of a local astronomy group. He asked about us and I told him about the new observatory. He didn’t just politely listen (as you might expect), but asked what sort of scope we were going to put in it, etc.

His talk lasted about half an hour. He told us about his childhood and how he joined the US Navy becoming a fighter pilot, flying F14 Tomcats. As he explained for those that didn’t know their planes, that was the one made famous by Tom Cruise in TopGun – although he quipped that he had actually ‘flown’ the things!

He explained that he trained to become a helicopter pilot flying anti-submarine machines in the Vietnam war, before applying to NASA.

His talk continued about the training involved to become an astronaut and his two missions. One of the most important things he did (yet hadn’t practised for), was after the Shuttle had released a solar observation satellite that malfunctioned. It was decided that he (and his Japanese colleague) should try and manually rescue said satellite (because it was slowly spinning out of control, the Shuttle crew could not use the robotic arm). Instead the two astronauts strapped their feet into position and over a 3.5 hr EVA, Winston guided the Shuttle pilot ever closer to the satellite so the two astronauts could physically grab it and load it back into the Shuttle cargo bay!

 

The satellite in question:

A link to him talking about catching the satellite:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tcA8GnPCj_xzMDYiKJ4X82BPtfpUyuUh/view?usp=sharing

 

He then explained the re-entry and landing procedure for the unpowered Shuttle and the extraction of the crew.

After concluding the main talk, the floor was opened for a half hour question and answer session which covered questions relating to travel to Mars, his training, pre-flight feelings and expectations, the private sector and space tourism, the future direction of space travel… and even his Navy ‘Call-Sign’… no, it wasn’t Maverick.. or Ice Man!

At the end Julie and I both went up separately to thank him. J got chance to ask a few more questions (!), one was about languages (as you might expect from a modern languages teacher!!!) and the other was about how they decide which way is ‘up’ in space – he’s answering that question below…

We left with a signed photograph having had an absolutely super evening. We couldn’t have met a nicer and more down to earth guy. If intelligent life ever visited Earth, he would make a great ‘First Contact’ ambassador !

Damian and Julie

 

North America and Pelican in Ha

First Image in more than three years…. just a screen grab as it’s not good enough for a full size jpeg.

A quick process to re-learn what we’ve forgotten in that time!

7x 600seconds taken at 385mm f/3.6. Dark and flat frames applied.

Calibrated and stacked in Nebulosity. Processed in Photoshop CC 2017.

Been out a few more times since then to try and sort out issues with guiding, mount control and the Robofocuser having stopped working – we’re slowly getting there!

Think now I have a total of 17 subs on this to sort. Then I’ll process again with a bit more care and attention to the finer details and stars. That should (hopefully) be the Ha sorted.

Next year we’ll try and get the SII and OIII to make up a false colour image.

Damian

How to turn iPad screen red for observing sessions

Thanks to Damian for these instructions

Andy

 

  1. Settings
  2. General – accessibility shortcut on right at bottom
  3. Colour filters – tick on
  4. General – display accommodations
  5. Colour filters tick on
  6. Choose colour tint
  7. Touch finger on red crayon
  8. Increase intensity right up

Once set up the red colour can be turned on and off by clicking home button 3x in quick succession.

Ed changes the heat power control circuitry on the laser pointers he made for Damian and Andy

Ed’s laser pointers with integratedvheater straps and powered from 12V car battery thay he madr for Damian and myself are fantastic. However the power transistor gets quite hot so he came around yesterday and swapped the transistor for a small board that switches power on and off at high frequency so that less power is used and it does not get hot. Works brilliantly! Thanks Ed. This is what we should be able to buy commercially but can’t….

Andy

Spectroscopy from Lichfield with CCDSPEC – Damian and Andy

Damian and I went outside at my house in Lichfield and manually guided the spectroscope to get a bundle of spectrums of stars tonight. Once he had got the technique there was no stopping our boy Damian!

He calibrated the spectroscope using a compact fluorescent bulb – we used linear equation for figures for calibration file tonight.

Comparing images of spectra from brighter stars with online typical spectra – we could immediately find most of main lines generally within 2nm (20A) or real values. Wow!

Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm, Manfrotto alt-az manual mount, hand guided, CCDSPEC, Nebulosity 4 software, QHY6 camera.

Note spectral classes:

Deneb A2 la
Altair A7V
Arcturus K1.1IIIFe
Vega A0V

Andy

 

N.B. With the peak of the Perseids tomorrow night and a reasonably clear night tonight we had expected to see a number of Perseid meteors…….Damian saw one in the nearly two hours we were outside and I missed even that one!

 

Calibration of the CCDSPEC/QHY6/Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm/Nebulosity setup:

Calculation spreadsheet for higher order polynomials Excel Andrew Thornett 100818

Damian’s calibration below (his measurements circled):

Some spectra were amazing, showing incredible lines:

Vega:

Altair:

Spectral type A7V

 

Altair:

Some spectra were not so amazing:

Lightning!

Just had a hefty thunder storm over the hills from Westendorf, Austria.

I quickly downloaded the iLightningCam app that Ed mentioned (well the free version to trial)!

This was the result from having a play with the settings sitting on the balcony from our room (hand held no less)…

Damian