Saturday, November 15, 2014

SkyLink and SkyPortal observations

Tonight I did a full set up of my Skywatcher 80ED Pro, Celestron SLT computerised mount, SkyLink and SkyPortal on my Samsung Tab2. This together with my new Canon 1200d and clear sky gave me the opportunity to do some great observing and imaging.

I am really impressed with the SkyLink wireless plug-in and SkyPortal App! I have no problem doing a 3 star alignment using the movement arrows on SkyPortal. My Tab2 has GPS to give a perfect LAT /LONG for the SLT mount and I have also set the time exactly. Once the alignment has been carried out everything I set the scope to GoTo gave me the object spot-on!
The only problem that occurs is that when the alignment has been carried out the mount does not automatically switch on the tracking. This seems to be a bug in the SkyPortal App, to get around it I have to go to settings and switch a couple of time between siderial and one of the others. Eventually, the tracking starts up and everything is fine!

I really like the 'search' function on SkyPortal, you can see all the available objects, planets, stars etc that can be seen at that time and all you do is select and press GoTo and the scope points to the object. If you use the live view, you can select any object on the skymap, centre and is so much easier than using the handset that comes with the SLT mount.
The SkyLink cost me about £100, but SkyPortal is free, the two together is a bargain and makes observing and imaging so much easier!

Here are some of my images that I took tonight...

Dumbell Nebula - 20 subs with 30s exposure ISO 800

The Ring Nebula - 12 subs at 30s exposure ISO 800

Single exposure of Uranus - 30s exposure


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae lands on the comet!

 First image from Philae on the surface of the comet!

Image of the comet taken from Rosetta.

This is one of those "Where were you when...." moments!

Yesterday and today I taught three classes about the Rosetta project and how today would be the most important space achievement since man walked on the Moon. The kids loved finding out and watching the video clips of the mission. I was quite amazed though that most of the children had never heard of the mission and had no idea what was about to happen today.
We really need to to get the kids interested and educate them about what is happening technologically with the space missions and projects. I agree with Prof, Brian Cox!

This is a truly outstanding fete...well done to everyone involved in the project!