Welcome


My Observatory at Dusk

New Observatory view

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SBIG Camera

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Thanks for visiting my website. It contains information on my astronomical images and how they were created. Here in Southern Arizona, where we get about 300 clear nights a year, it's perfect for outdoor activities, and of course, astronomy. My observatory is a roll off roof design in the back yard, and once the roof is open and the telescope is raised on a electrically controlled pedestal, I'm ready to go. There is a network connection to the observatory in the house, so I can control the telescope without going outside, either from a desktop computer or a laptop. If I'm away, I can check on an imaging run or even control it from an iPhone or an iPad.  It all works rather well, especially since imaging sessions are usually quite long. 

My equipments consists of a Takahashi 5" refracting telescope, and a 12.5" Hyperion Astrograph. The Takahashi  is perfect for deep sky work, and has excellent color correction. The larger aperture Hyperion brings me closer into objects and gathers more light. The Hyperion telescope built by the folks at Starizona here in Tucson. It is designed fully as an Astrograph.

My camera is a Santa Barbara Instruments Group STF8300m CCD imager. It has an 8 megapixel chip, and is the same equipment that many University and Government observatories use. The camera is attached to an auto-focuser that can refocus the image several times in a night. That's necessary as temperatures can change frequently in our low humidity.  The camera also has a secondary camera that functions as a guider. 

Everything is mounted on a Paramount ME, which is wired to a laptop and can automatically point to any part of the sky. Since most of the objects I image can't be seen without a long time exposure, computer control for pointing the telescope is essential. 

I use Maxim DL for acquiring the images and camera control. Registar for aligning the images, and Photoshop for finishing and color balancing. Noel Carboni's PS actions complete the software mix. The mount, telescope and camera are fully automated using CCDAutopilot 5. Once the roof is opened, and the equipment turned on, CCDAutopilot has complete control of the session, moving the telescope, operating the camera, autofocusing and then saving all the data for processing at a later time. 

Most imaging sessions take several hours. Often they go for more than one night. It is not unusual for an image to have 6-10 hours of total exposure time, or more. For that to work, the camera and mount must be very sturdy, and the mount allows the camera to follow the object across the sky from east to west.

To access the rest of my images, just click on the headings above. When you are on the individual image pages, just click on the pictures to see the image at a larger size. When you have the large image feel free to right-click on it and save it for yourself. They make great desktop backgrounds. Any other use of my images is welcomed, but please ask permission. Most of all, enjoy the experience of seeing objects few people on earth have ever seen.  



All images © Mel Martin 2016     Contact Me