Science and the night sky 

My journey from a childhood fascination to present


I was a curious child. The world around me was full of endless fascination. There were rocks, bugs, plants and mushrooms to be collected  and identified. Birds and wildlife and sea creatures to watch from our summer beach house. And at the end of the day the stars came out.

By the time I was 12, I already had a Gilbert chemistry set and Radio Shack electronics labs as well as many assembled electronics kits. From Edmund Scientific I had a wealth of great stuff like optics kits, atomic cloud chamber, Van der Graaf generator, microscope accessories (we already had a lab grade microscope in the house) and then I got the bug to build a telescope……

Click to see full scale
The ever present moon

 

 

Building the Edmund Scientific 6″ reflector

I still have this scope!


It’s hard for even me to believe that as a child I built a 6″ Newtonian Telescope somewhere around 1971. Not just assembling the parts, but grinding and polishing the mirror. And not just polishing the mirror, but testing the curvature to create a good parabolic curve meant also building the foucault tester and learning how to use it. 

As a young teenager I purchased an Olympus OM-1 35mm camera with the express intent to use it with my telescope. I had even joined the Seattle Astronomical Society and attended a few meetings, but the astrophotography bug would not take hold for many years.

I need to get a good picture of my telescope but I found this image of the complete setup for sale from back in the day. This is basicaly the same as what I own.

Capturing Photons

Astrophotography right from our backyard in Corvallis Montana

The telescope equipment and software used in this deep space adventure is a complex story mainly of interest to other amateur astronomy buffs, but anyone is welcome to check it out!

The quest began with a Christmas gift in 2015 of an Orion 130ST for my daughter who was entering her university studies in astrophysics. My childhood interest in astronomy was re ignited and so began the present journey.

The optics, electronics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, motors and mechanical design, software, etc. It’s all here or will be soon.

Currently I am using a self modified CG-4 mount with stepper motor drive, controlled with an AstroEQ driver and EQMOD software. Imaging is from an unmodified Canon T1i on a Orion 150 astrograph scope. I have a 50mm finder scope as well, with an ASI 120MM camera for guiding.

Ready for a cold night under the stars
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