Blog

  • PrimaLuceLab Introduction

  • M51 Galaxy By Dan Yagi

  • Tim Connolly - Elephant Trunk Nebula

    Customer Tim Connolly captured these gorgeous images of the concentrated region of gases known as the Elephant Trunk Nebula within the ionized gas region IC 1396.
    I finally have been using my new monochrome camera and filters!
    Elephant’s Trunk Nebula - IC1396, in the constellation Cepheus. The first image is constructed using the Hubble Palette. (Red Channel - Sulphur II, Green - Hydrogen Alpha, Blue - Oxygen III). The second image is a bi-color image using Hydrogen Alpha (Red) and Oxygen III (Blue/Green).
    Lights - 12 - 5 minute exposed images
    Darks - 25
    Bias - 25
    Flats - 25
    Orion 8” F3.9 Newtonian
    ZWO ASI 1600 mm-pro
    ZWO 7nm narrowband filters
    Celestron CGEM DX Mount
    Captured using SGPro (Trial Version)
    Stacked in DSS
    Processed in Photoshop
    Tim Connolly ??
  • First Look - Meade LX85 EQ Mount

    June 1st, 2018 Meade Instruments announces a new line of portable, flexible and affordable equatorial mounts, the LX85.  Capable of carrying 33 pounds, this smart mount includes Meade Audiostar with Astronomer Inside technology, exceptionally stable and reliable gears and is compatible with the Meade Zero Image Shift focuser.  Check out this quick first look video and stay tuned for more!

  • Dr. D Review of Morpheus 17.5mm Eyepiece

    Dr. D discusses, in intense detail, the Baader 17.5mm Morpheus eyepiece.

    "the [Baader] 17.5mm Morpheus is exceedingly comfortable to use. The exit pupil is very stable and not once did I encounter any blackout or kidney beaning. Eye relief was also both long and comfortable, and flexibly adaptable."

    Click here to see the full review.

  • Join us at Starlight Festival - Yerkes Observatory

    Starlight Festival 2018

    Yerkes Observatory - Williams Bay, WI

    Memorial Day Weekend

    This year's Starlight Festival will be held at the historic Yerkes Observatory, Saturday May 26th and Sunday May 27th.  This is a FREE event, open to the public.  Bringing together a community of scientists, writers, outreach volunteers and proponents of science and astronomy education with the leading retailers and manufacturers of telescopes, cameras, microscopes and science tools and toys this Festival is all about the importance of science in our every day lives, and continued advancements in education.   This year the event celebrates the 150th birthday of George Ellery Hale designer of the massive 40" refractor at Yerkes.  This beautiful observatory located in the stunning Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin was founded in 1897 and has been operated by the University of Chicago.  The college's funding for Yerkes may be at an end this year however and this could be a final chance to see the observatory up close.   In-depth tours of Yerkes, housing the world's largest refractor telescope, will be available during the festival.

    Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes is sponsoring featured speaker Dr. Linda Spilker, JPL Project Scientist for Cassini, at this year's Starlight Festival.   Launch in October 1997, Cassini spent two decades travelling through our solar system studying the fascianting planet of Saturn and in that time revealed only a small portion of all we had to learn.  That mission ended when the Cassini probe collided with Saturn in September 2017, sending invaluable data to NASA scientists about the ringed planet in it's final weeks.   Now that the mission has concluded, JPL and NASA scientists have processed the immense amount of data gathered uncovering previously unknown information.   Dr. Spilker will be discussing the incredible findings that the millions of gigabytes of data collected has revealed to us about Saturn, our solar system and the ongoing search for life beyond Earth.

    Other speakers at this year's festival include Dr. Seth Shostak and his search for extraterrestrial life, Samual D. Hale on the legacy of his grandfather the late George Ellery Hale who designed and oversaw the building of some of our nation's largest telescopes including the massive 40 inch refractor at Yerkes, discussions of astronomy outreach with Kosovo's Pranvera Hyseni, MIT Physics graduate and author Marcia Bartusiak on the history and breakthroughs of astronomy and physics, Astronomy Magazine editor David Eicher on the importance of science literacy, and a live feed from Mt. Wilson Observatory with telescope operator Thomas Meneghini.

    The Starlight Festival is an event to highlight science, robotics and astronomy literacy, education and research.  This begins with our youth and showing them that science can be a fun and fascinating hobby or profession.  STEM activities and hands on projects will be there for kids of all ages to join in on.  Joining speakers at this year's show is Physicist Jerry Zimmerman, also known as Mr. Freeze, who will be demonstrating the "super cool" properties of Cyrogenics!   His entertaining and amazing show is fun for the entire family.    Science touches so many aspects of our lives including the Arts.   The festival welcomes space artist Carlos Hernandez and live music.

  • Sun Images taken by Simon Tang with the Coronado SolarMax II 90 Double Stack BF15

    Featuring the sunspot AR2706.

  • Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope

    Cassiopeia A is a very important supernova remnant for radio astronomy since it's the brightest extrasolar radio source in the sky when studying at frequencies above 1 GHz. This feature makes it a conquest within the reach of radio telescopes equipped with not huge antennas, but it is still a relatively weak radio source. In fact, having a flux of around 2400 Jansky at a frequency of 1,42 GHz, it's a lot weaker than the Sun that is around 40000 Jansky! In this article we will see how to use SPIDER radio telescope and its RadioUniversePRO software to record the signal from Cassiopea A by aligning the antenna, removing the artificial signals and recording transists, spectra and radio maps.

     

     

    Cassiopeia A (purple line) is the most powerful extra Solar System source but it's still very weak!

     

    In visible frequencies, Cassiopeia A is extremely weak since the interstellar dust of the Milky Way plane absorbs the visible radiation. Cassiopeia A (also called Cas A) was identified in 1947 (one of the first radio sources to be identified) while its optical counterpart was discovered in 1950. It's thought that supernova that created Cassiopeia A exploded about 11,000 years ago and that the light of the explosion reached Earth about 300 years ago. We have no infos of a sighting of this supernova, it is possible that the sixth magnitude star 3 Cassiopeiae, that John Flamsteed cataloged by August 16, 1680, was actually Cas A.

     

    Cassiopea A supernova remnant across the spectrum: Gamma rays (magenta), X-rays (blue, green), visible light (yellow), infrared (red) and radio (orange). Credits: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, CXC/SAO/JPL-Caltech/Steward/O. Krause et al., and NRAO/AUI

     

    Thanks to the high sensitivity of SPIDER radio telescope's H142-One receiver, it is possible to record radio signals coming also from objects outside the Solar System. Then we used the advanced features of SPIDER and RadioUniversePRO software to record the incoming signal from Cassiopea A during the day and in the presence of clouds. Having to aim for a weak radio source, we must first of all be sure that the radio telescope is correctly aimed to the right sky area: so we used the Offset Alignment feature of RadioUniversePRO to perform a precision alignment on the Sun that, being a very strong radio source, it's perfect to align the mount of the SPIDER radio telescope.

     

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: automatic alignment with RadioUniversePRO

     

     

    We then used the Source Visibilities tab of RadioUniversePRO (where the radio source database is included) to verify that Cassiopeia A had a good elevation from the ground (it is in fact recommended to aim high objects least 30 degrees from the ground) and then to precisely point this radio source. Before starting to record data, we verified the presence of interferences in the frequency band (50 MHz, centered at 1420 MHz) recorded by the SPIDER radio telescope. As you can see in the image below, the hydrogen line at 1420 MHz is clearly visible along with some artificial interferences but we can easily isolate it thanks to the BBC Tools tool of RadioUniversePRO. This way the SPIDER radio telescope will not record artificial radio signals.

     

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: Hydrogen line and artificial interferences

     

    We have therefore captured a Cross-Scan, a technique that involves recording a transit in both Elevation and Azimuth (or even in Right Ascension and Declination), centered on the object. This way we get a graph of the intensity of the radio emission along a cross centered on the object and that allows to determine the maximum radio emission of Cassiopeia A. In order to perform this operation, we select the "TPI Plot" tab in RadioUniversePRO and we use the Cross-Scan feature, we select the length of the scan, the separation of each record point and the integration time of each record point. The SPIDER radio telescope mount moves the antenna and the software creates a graph like the one you can see in the image below.

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: Cross-Scan record of Cassiopea A

     

    RadioUniversePRO saves the data in various formats that can then be processed with different softwares. In this case we used a simple editor to generate a graph that shows both transits 15 degrees long with the variation of the radiometric datum recorded both in elevation and azimuth. We clearly notice the increase in the recorded radio value caused by Cassiopea A. In this way we also verified that the SPIDER radio telescope mount is perfectly aligned on the radio sources in the sky and that Cassiopea A was perfectly aimed.

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: Cross-Scan graph of Cassiopea A

     

    So we recorded the calibrated spectrum of Cassiopea A in order to to highlight the emission line of neutral hydrogen at 1420 MHz. For this operation we used the On-Off feature of RadioUniversePRO with spectrum recording: by recording data from the source radio ("on" position) and then calibrating it to a point in the sky away from the radio source ("off" position), the result is a calibrated spectrum. The result is visible in the image below, you can see how the SPIDER radio telescope has perfectly highlighted the emission of the hydrogen line at 1420 MHz.

     

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: calibrated spectrum with hydrogen line

     

    We then performed a capture sequence of radio maps in the same area of Cassiopea A, using the Mapping function of RadioUniversePRO. We have set the capture of an area of 15x15 degrees, with 30 seconds of integration for each point and a separation between the points of 1 degree. In order to check the consistency of the recordings we recorded different maps at different times and, as you can see in the image below, all of them show an increase in the signal right close to the map center, just where you expect to find Cassiopea A.

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: two Cassiopea A radio maps show signal increase just close to the map center

     

    By saving recorded data in FITS format (just like the professional radio telescopes) we have therefore extracted the data that can be processed with different softwares. Then we used the NASA FITS Viewer software to process one of the radio maps, better highlighting Cassiopea A signal from the sky background. The radio map captured by the SPIDER was then compared to an optical image, as you can see in the image below. It is easy to see how, in an area apparently empty of particular objects, the SPIDER radio telescope instead records an important object, just the supernova remnant known as Cassiopea A in the nomenclature used for radio sources.

     

    Cassiopea A recorded with SPIDER radio telescope: Cassiopea A sky area optical and radio image comparison

     

    SPIDER is the first radio telescope that has been specifically developed and designed by PrimaLuceLab in order to allow everyone to discover the magic of real radio astronomy without the need of being a radio astronomer to make it work! Click here to discover the full line of SPIDER radio telescopes.

  • NexDome Setup by Frank Parks in San Diego

    Here is my NexDome in San Diego being prepared for the FSQ-106 imaging system.  The 8-foot NexDome was quite easy to assemble and is well made for a very affordable dome.  My next project is to cut down some more trees and start narrowband imaging.  Thanks for the great service.
    — Frank

  • The Nuts and Bolts of Astrophotography By Leroy Goering

    Preview

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