Mare Crisium

Here is how a sunset looks like on Mare Crisium, a beautiful crater on our Moon.

Telescope: Celestron, C14

Mount: Losmandy Titan, tracking in Lunar mode

Camera: ZWO ASI 174 mono version

Filter: Luminance

Image Exposure: 1/1000th of a second

Total Frames: 4000

Stacked: 1000

Software: Fire Capture, AviStack, Registax, Photoshop CC.

First image of the moon from ASI174 camera & C14

Seeing was behaving tonight.. So this image is form my main telescope, C14 and the new camera ZWO ASI 174 mono. Fire capture is so simple and intuitive to use.. probably the most colorful software that i have ever used. This software controls ZWO cameras and filter wheel flawlessly; i got an AVI of about 4000 frames using a luminance filter with this.

Autostakkert, Registax and Photoshop CC were used to process the video file into this image. Not bad! Can you guess the craters? (Hint: It is the eastern limb)

Testing the New Camera ASI 174 mono

Recently i bought my first ZWO cam, ASI 174 mono version. We are still having our monsoon season so still not being able to test it thoroughly but during a break in the clouds i captured this video and some more, which i will put up in a few days.

This is from C14 telescope; i had attached 2.5X powermate at the backend, which had made the focal length to 10,000mm with an f ratio f/28.

Seeing is never good in the monsoon season.. so i am waiting for this weather to end. This video was shot at 317 frames per second and i captured around 20k frames in about a minute!

This camera seems very promising.. In the future, i will be using ZWO filter wheel (already have one) and various filters that i have. Sadly Jupiter and Saturn are on their way to the sunlight but i have my eyes on Mars now. 


Water Cooling for CCD

SBIG advises Not to cool the water which is going through the camera to cool the CCD inside.. it can cause dew to form inside the camera body, which can fry the electronics! 

But here in summer the temp goes way to high.. so a few months back i had built a custom water cooling system where i can set the temperature with a micro controller. Now i keep the temperature of the water above the dew point and everything works fine!

Here is a comparison.. 31 Celsius goes in the camera and 35 Celsius comes out and drops in the water cooling box.


Changed position of the Weather Station

My weather station was fixed closed to the ground, some 2 feet above it. The observatory buildings are very near to that place and the wind speed gets effected by it. i knew i had to change the position of the weather station.

Today i changed the position of the station and fixed it on a 15 feet high poll! I will test the measurements in the coming days. 



Firmware updates!

Tonight i connected Losmandy Titan with the ethernet connection and this enabled me to update the firmware.

Both the Main Board and Hand Control got new firmwares which has many new and improved features.. i will be testing them out in the few next days to come.

I am always impressed to use Losmandy Titan Mount.. such a beautiful piece of machine!!


A New Autoguider

In 2014, the head of CBSAP, USA Mr Stephen Ramsden donated a premium 127mm APO refractor telescope (with other stuff) to me so that can help me with more outreach programs. This telescope has shown the Sun to tens of thousands of people all across the province of Punjab. They include people found in public parks, kids in schools, colleges and universities. I have also used this scope countless time to see the night sky objects and to image moon, sun, planets and many dso. 

I am using this refractor telescope on my previosuly owned Celestron CGEM DX mount. Always wanted to use more potential of this scope. So i recently bought an autoguider scope which will attach with the big APO and give me a 'hands free' experience of imaging deep sky objects. The make is Orion and its an 80mm refractor. Here are the images from the unboxing event!



Lahore Science Mela

Khwarizmi Science Society has taken such a giant leap forward in bringing public to the arena of pure scientific curiosity which you would have to see to believe it!

It will be held for two full days from 09:00am to 06:00pm, on 28-29 January, 2017 at Ali Auditorium, Lahore.

I, along with my good friends from Lahore Astronomical Society will be there with our many telescopes, astronomical cameras and more, for a massive outreach astronomy program for thousands of people, all day long.

For more informaiton, please visit the website of LSM, 2017.

Here is a wonderful introduction made by KSS and Dr Sabieh Anwar.

Solar Outreach, Gujranwala

I was invited to a Madrassa in Gujranwala during their short course on "Ilm e Tauqeet"  (time keeping). 

Had a wonderful time there.. Talked a lot about Science and Astronomy to the students and teachers of the Madrassa. They asked great questions and a lot of them!

Next we went to the roof where my Halpha Solar Telescope was placed. We saw the sun and Solar Prominence in the eyeiece of the scope.

Came back home with a very happy astro heart :-) 


Mouse in the Observatory

Yesterday i thought to get some Photometry data because the fog was not intense and the humidity was 70% in the evening. Little did i expect what was for me there in the observatory!

When i opened the Human Room, THIS is what i saw:

Two wires have been cut (marked with arrows, showing both ends) and some polystyrene sheet has been damaged. Immediately a picture of the mouse appeared in my mind.. this is bad!

I tried to find the mouse inside the room but it is filled with a million things. I knew he must be hiding now somewhere here and perhaps he is not even here right now but i had to do a thorough search.

Finally i found him.. the enemy was hiding deep in the back corner of the freezer. I tried to convince him logically that he cannot live on my planet and he should go back to his own but for some unknown reasons, he did not respond.

Then i had to do what an angry Samurai would do.. I threatened him with my martial arts skills. He got furious and suddenly jumped and started running everywhere. Believe me, when it moved, it moved faster than the speed of light (no disrespect to Einstein).

I tried to show him the outdoors respectfully but he was in no mood to move out. At one point, i lost him. Tried to locate him everywhere but in no vain. May be he has gone out of the room after all but i had to confirm it.

Suddenly i remembered that i have a Thermal Imaging Camera from Seek Thermal which can be attached to the iPhone. Immediately connected it and started scanning the room. It was not on the floor or behind the wires or tables.. perhaps the thermal camera cannot pick out his heat signature.

But then when i pointed the camera on the wall.. I saw this view:

Right is the normal view and left is what Thermal Camera is showing me. The devil was inside the wall!!! This is becoming so Tom and Jerry now!

I finally made so much noise and hits to the wall that he came out and after another 10 minutes or so of me being chasing him out, he finally decided to end my cardio and left with the grace of Splinter (yes, i was also a child once!)

New toy in Observatory

I always have survived with my mount for the last 12 years, without something that i thought is not needed.

Back in 2003. There were no GPS in mobile phones. I bought a Garmin GPS specially from USA to know my coordinates. It worked all fine!

Then Mobile phones introduced GPS and there was no need to have a separate GPS receiver. I have been using this whenever i want to locate the geo-position for any of my mount. It has been working fine!

But there is some project which need very accurate time registration in Photometry and Astrometry. I have been using internet atomic clocks to synchronize my computer clock so far. But i decided to get a proper dedicated GPS for my mount now.

It arrived today at the observatory and i have installed it in the mount tonight. It has a cable with it because GPS receiver works best when not in the vicinity of any metal which is what a mount if made of.

I turned on the mount, the Gemini 2 control indicated it has detected a GPS attached and has updated tit with the GPS data. Now there will be one less step in my setup for the imaging runs.

Changing Temperature's effect on focusing

When i connected the telescope and camera today with my computer, the TCF Focuser temperature readout showed the temperature of the telescope to be 18 C. I thought let's experiment on the temperature and defocusing simple relation.

I focused the telescope on a readout at 4,000, which is the position on the TCF auto focuser. Kept on imaging for a while and when the temperature went 2 degrees below at 17 C. I refocused again and got a number of 4,499.. so the focus has been shifted around 450 values.. this is a huge difference!

The following picture will illustrate it better.. Notice the pointed star in both images. The left shows the FWHM value of 3.45 at the temperature of 17 C, this is rather a blurry star now but it was at tight focus when i focused it at 19 C.

On the right is the same star at FWHM of 1.88 at 17 C but after refocusing.. this is much much better.

So with 2 degrees of temperature drop, the FWHM of the star increased from 1.88 to 3.45! This translates as a very accurately focused start to a poorly focused star. What i want to show is we need to constantly keep an eye on focusing. That is why the high end focusers come with the temperature compensation option.. I always keep my system at the temp compensation mode. This keeps on changing the focuser position by noticing the change in the temperature. TCF can detect a a change of a tenth of degree!

Oh and btw, for those who don't know know about it. FWHM is a widely used number to see how small a star is in any image. The lower number is always better. Web has a lot of sources about it.

Solar Outreach at Beaconhouse DHA

I went to Beaconhouse Phase 6 branch today and the students of grade 2 got to see the sun from Lunt Halpha Solar Telescope. They were very happy, rather stunned to see the sun in the eyepiece. I am sure many of them will become scientists or better Astronomers in the future!

Asteroid 468 Lina movie

Here is a 3 hours tracking of an asteroid which is having a prograde rotation around the sun right now.

Here is the combined image of all three hours of data. The trail is from this asteroid path it took in all this time. Sorry about the 'dust donuts'.. i did not apply flats to these images.

The autoguiding was doing great for all these 187 images that were stitched in this animation.

Telescope: Celestron C14

Camera: SBIG ST9XE

Filter: Luminance

22 Kelliope Asteroid observation

On the night of 13 October 2016, i observed an asteroid 22 Kelliope from 02:01am to 03:24am in 700-900nm wavelength band. My CCD camera was at -20 Celcius. The focal length of my imaging system is now at 4390mm and the image scale is 0.94 arcseconds per pixel. 

Here is the path of this asteroid in stacked 114 images of 30 seconds of each exposure.

The line is the path which asteroid was on. You can tell that it was getting brighter on its way 'up'.

Here is the lightcurve of its 200nm Infrared band.

X axis is time in Julian Date and Y axis is Instrumental Magnitude scale.

You can see that when i started taking data, the asteroid was dimming and then it rose to almost half magnitude. This lightcurve shows the rotation of about one and a half hour period.

X axis is time in Julian Date and Y axis is Skyglow in ADU (analogue to digital units)

Interestingly, the sky glow was decreasing with time. This is perhaps because the moon was setting in the west and the city lights were switching off.. but i am not sure of the reason yet.