A Trip To Tucson.

I had some business to attend to in Pheonix this weekend, but afterwards I moved on to Tucson for a visit.

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Luckily, I was able to stop by and see one of my favorite telescope manufacturers.  Once we entered we were asked if we wanted a tour!  Dreams do come true!

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Here is the grinding machines for the large telescopes.

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The mirror coating machine that they recently purchased.

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The main grinding room.

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Blanks waiting to be transformed.

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35mm and 60mm grinding machines waiting for blanks.

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The blanks attached to base ready to be ground to perfection.

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An early stage etalon ready to move on down the line.

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The etalon is sandwiched between two blanks with tiny, tiny, tiny spacers less than .000005mm!

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Ye Olde Optics Shop!  Yeah!

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All the parts starting to come together.

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Parts waiting to ship.

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Completed 60mm solar scope waiting for pickup by their new owners.

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A lone 100mm scope amid the 60mm scopes ready and waiting.

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A microscope to place the spacers.

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The spacers are made from pieces of a larger piece.  Literally, they just break off little pieces of the blank and place them to create the air gap necessary for the solar scope to work correctly.

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Handing over an etalon!

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Checking for perfection using a standard light emitter.

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The business end of a Lunt Solar Scope ready for testing.

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One last check, and Lunts are go!

You can find out more about these amazing solar scopes here.

Tomorrow, Kitt Peak!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Big Blue.

Once again, Hubble has expanded the Universe of our knowledge.

This time, Astronomers found the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.  The planet, HD 189733b, isn’t just blue, its big, at least the size of Jupiter.  The cobalt blue color doesn’t come from water reflection, like Earth, but most likely from the blow-torched atmosphere.  There is even speculation that there is solid silica rain (glass rain).

However fun a glass rain storm would be probably pales in comparison to the 2,000 degree Fahrenheit  (1093 Celsius) temperature and 4,500/mph (7242/ kph) wind.  Shards of glass flying at you very fast, what’s not to love about a planet like that?

Using Hubble’s Imaging Spectrograph, Astronomers measured changes in the color of light from planet HD 189733b during its transit behind the star it orbits.  Fortuitously, the planet’s orbit is tilted edge-on with respect to the Earth so the planet routinely passes in front and behind its star.

Hubble’s instruments measured about 1/10,000 of the light you would normally see.  “We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue, but not in the green or the red. This means that the object that disappeared is blue because light was missing in the blue, but not in the red when it was hidden.”

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

LADEE do you need some help?

As Jerry Lewis was fond of saying LAAYYYDEEE.  Although in this case it means something else.

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is scheduled to launch from Wallops Island in September.

This will be the first mission launched from Wallops Island to go beyond low Earth orbit.  I wasn’t even aware that Wallops Island had this capability (Go Navy!).

LADEE will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.

LADEE is also the first spacecraft to use a new modular common spacecraft bus.

This will allow multi-use designs and assembly-line production, that could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development.  Much like the European Space Agencies Mars and Venus Express craft used many common items to cut costs and decrease the time it takes from production to launch.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A “Heavenly” view.

Earlier this week I posted about the Chinese space station Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace mission.

Solar transit of the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 with the Shenzhou-10 module docked, taken from Southern France on June 16, 2013 at 12:14:50 UTC; using a white light filter.  Credit and copyright: Thierry Legault.

Copyright Thierry Legault 2013 all rights reserved.

Well, it appears that the Shenzhou-10 module has successfully docked with the space station.  Can you see the space station in another amazing image taken by fantastic transit photographer Thierry Legault.

Hydrogen-alpha solar transit of Shenzhou-10 module docked to Tiangong-1, taken from Southern France on June 17, 2013 at 12:34:24 UT. Credit and copyright: Thierry Legault.

Copyright Thierry Legault 2013 all rights reserved.

Because of the speed of the orbiting space station, Thierry had less than half a second each to capture these two images of the Shenzhou-10 docked with the Tiangong-1 space station.  What is even more amazing is that each image was taken on two different days.

These images are even more impressive when you consider the size of the two objects and how far away they are from the surface.  The Tiangong-1 space station is about 34ft (10.4 meters) long and the Shenzou-10 is about 30ft (9.25 meters) long.   Together they are about 65ft long orbiting at around 225 miles (362 kilometres) overhead.  Pretty much like imaging  a needle in a haystack.

Thierry uses a program that I have not tried, CalSky, to calculate when and where to take  these amazing 1/2 second photos.  I think I will have to give it a try.  I have been using a program called The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) to plan my Moon, Sunrise and Sunset photographs and I highly recommend it as well.  You should add them to your arsenal of good tools for taking great shots.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Good photo op in tonight’s sky.

If you missed the last conjunction between Jupiter, Mercury and Venus this past month, you’ll get another chance at a good photo tonight.

This time it is the Moon, Venus and Mercury.  If you look to the west-northwest horizon tonight you will see all three.

The show will last for about 45 minutes after sunset (Venus sets right after that).

You should be able to see all three with the naked eye and you might even want to try and take a photograph.  You shouldn’t need anything fancier than your cell phone and a steady hand.  Orion even makes devices for holding your cellphone in place for you.

I am going to try my hand at getting a few images and I will post the results (provided the weather cooperates).  Let me know if you take any images, I would love to see your shots!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Another swing and a miss.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 will fly by the Earth on May 31 (or June 1st depending upon where you live) at a distance of 3.6 million miles or 5.8 million km.
The size comparison that most everyone is using is that the 1.7 mile or  2.7km long rock is 9 times the size of the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner.
I am not sure how big that is, but the graphic above puts in a little better perspective for me.
Moon
Additionally, if you are worried that it might hit the Earth, the moon is fifteen times closer at about 230,800 miles.  So, not much of a chance of impact.
However, I am very interested in seeing if there are any little companions travelling with the asteroid.  If you recall, a few hours after the last asteroid that flew by us, a fairly large chunk of something hit in Siberia making a very large explosion.
http://images.sdentertainer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/asteroid2.jpg
Could it be that this wanderer through our neighbouring space is also bringing unwanted guests?  It will be hard to tell until something happens.  We currently don’t have the technology to detect small asteroids and/or comet that are small.  Hopefully, the only thing that happens is that all the scientists get great images, spectra and radar information to work with.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Quick RTMC recap.

This weekend was the annual pilgrimage to Big Bear for the Society for Astronomical Sciences meetings and  RTMC.

The 2013 SAS Symposium on Telescope Science was held on May 21-23at the Northwoods Resort in Big Bear Lake, CA.  Over 100 professional and amateur astronomers meet each year for this event.  The Symposium has become one of the premiere events for amateur astronomers and for building pro-am collaborations.  Amateurs, and some professionals, make presentations covering a wide range of topics, from imaging basics, photometry, spectroscopy, instrumentation, and more. Observing targets reach from near-Earth to the edges of the Universe.  If you’re at least a little interested in astronomical research, this is one of the events attend each year.  More information about next years event can be found on their web site (link above).

Immediately after the SAS conference RTMC opens the gates at Camp Oakes, a YMCA camp, near Big Bear City. 

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This is the booth for discovering all the activities and sign up sheets for …

… the Big Bear Solar observatory.  Please note, the picture above is not to scale or snow depth.  It was actually a warm 78 degrees this year.  Due to the altitude, however, I have spent some Memorial weekends in the snow.

For the rest of the week, I am going to show images that I took at RTMC and some of the events that take place each year.  If you are looking for a brief astronomical event that the whole family can enjoy.  There is swimming, hiking, horse back riding and a whole bunch of other events for everyone to enjoy.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Nights Under the Stars

I just got back today from a couple of nights at the observatory.  I imaged the Iris and Crescent nebulae.  The wind was a little high on Friday, but it was glorious on Saturday.  I wanted everyone to see the view I go to sleep with on nights like this.  My 11″ Celestron Fastar with an 80mm short tube Orion refractor on top for guiding and wide field imaging.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to image when I started, but a quick look through the CCDCalc (freeware with Neil Fleming’s additional images) of my setup and the available targets, and I quickly chose those two for my imaging.  As you may recall, I had an incident with the GPS unit and the real time clock in my mount fighting with each other.  Evidently, all you have to do is pull everything apart, disconnect all the batteries and power sources and put it all back together again.  Then, they will play nice with one another.  Piece of cake…NOT!  Anyway, everything is back to functioning perfectly as before.  I wish I knew what happened.  I should have the two images done this week, so I will post them when the processing is a little farther along.  So until then, I give you these two images so you can harken back to camping out and looking at the star in wonder and awe.

– Ex astris, scientia –


Until next time.  Please remember, If you have a great idea that need protection (like an unbreakable astronomy mount) or you know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.  Thanks.

Aaaarrrggggghhhh!

Did you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right for no apparent reason?  My whole day started out down the tubes and got worse from there.  I have no explanation.  First thing this morning I am going to work and I get trapped by a lost school bus for five minutes.  Then, while I am going to pick up Friday doughnuts for everyone, I get trapped by a semi-truck backing up on the street.  After I get the doughnuts, I am trapped by a large van and an old Lincoln that are so terrified of each other that neither of them can move (neither can I while waiting for this standoff to end).

The rest of the day went equally bad, but I thought (hoped really) that a good night of astrophotography would take the edge off.

Oooooohhhhh, was I soooooooo wrong!

My observatory mount (like the one pictured above) decided that tonight was the night that it was not going to work.  After almost a year of perfect operation, it has to pick tonight to be special.  Needless to say, after four hours of trying everything, I am giving up.

Maybe tomorrow the gremlins will leave me alone and go pick on someone else (again, hopefully NOT you).

I hope everyone else’s day went better than mine.