Joined Feb 9 2010
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General Info

59 years old
Aranjuez, Spain
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Brough Astronomy [BLAS]

About Me

I've been an active member of BLAS for a number of years, and am also involved with HERAS (President for the 2008 - 2009 season).


I have an academic interest in astronomy and have completed a number of Open University modules in Astronomy and Planetary Science, and Astrophysics.


On the practical side, I am a keen astrophotographer and can be found at BLAS on most clear nights. I have spent the past 3 years building experience and technique in this field and am now able to produce images of publishable quality.

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Reply AshleighNightingale
12:15 PM on January 19, 2013 
Hi again Paul, I just have a quick question. You mentioned getting an adapter to fit cameras to telescopes, was it a T adapter? Just a black ring type object? Thought I'd best check before I look for one
Reply AshleighNightingale
11:15 AM on January 15, 2013 
Hi Paul, thanks a lot for the links, I'll definitely cheack them out when I get some time after work this week. At the weekend I'm going to try head out and do some photography, just to get used to working in the dark like you said, and get back into using everything. I'll let you know how I get on.

Thanks again :)
Reply Matty
12:55 PM on January 14, 2011 
thank you for your information and it's a great help toward my work experience. Also if you have any more information for jobs in astronomy please contact me again
Reply Alio
9:04 AM on January 13, 2011 
Hi Paul,
Thanks for that. I plan to vist this weekend so let us hope for a clear sky.
Reply Darren
9:41 AM on October 14, 2010 
Hi Paul and thanks for the welcome.
I have a Skywatcher 200P on a EQ5 mount which I bought only a few weeks ago. So far I have managed to get out a few nights in my back garden, but as you state, the light pollution is dreadful. However I have stayed persistent and I have managed to see M13 & M31, as well as the bright Jupiter and the Moon.
I want to visually observe for a while and then I would like to get into astrophotography once I know the sky a lot better.
Do people bring their scope to the monthly meeting or other times? It would also be great to go somewhere really dark. Once again, thanks for the warm welcome to BLAS :)
Reply jin
6:08 AM on October 7, 2010 
thanks all that info is really useful. last night was so clear and id seen the sky at night the night before so was looking for mira and then orion to try and find the comet. i will be investing in some good binoculars and i definately need a pocket guide. i got some more images from BRT back and got a really good image of the jupiter moons bur as you said the planet itself was just a blur. i did see quite a few shooting stars last night too. hopefully i will make it to brough some time soon. thanks again for the info and advice, Jin.
Reply jin
4:09 PM on October 3, 2010 
yes i do have dark skies where i live, thats whats got me more interested, since i moved from hull. i dont have a telescope but i am interested in learning how to use one properly. ive been taking some images with the bradford robotic telescope, ive got one back of jupiter and i was quite impressed to see the moons around it but the planet didnt come out that well. its just a case of experementing with it now. im really just learning, so forgive me if i ask daft questions!!
Reply Doug
2:52 PM on August 21, 2010 

Just gone and bought a logitech C120 webcam (CMOS sensor) but compatible with Metaguide, so just need to remove the lens, glue on a C mount adapter ring (or 35mm film cannister with end chopped off), and then I can attach my C mount nose piece and see how it does. If it doesn't work it's only 8 wasted if I cannot recreate the original configuration. Also bought an Active USB extension cable which will enable me to use the laptop in the garage.

I'll let you know how I get on.....

Camera modified for use on scope - not difficult (picture added to DIY section) - Metaguide seems to work ok with it. I wish I'd removed the IR blocking filter from the lens assembly before re-assembly (inc. gluing). I have now got the little filter with some thread left, but cannot fit it now. Just need some clear sky to try it, although someone has done the same as me but used it to test colimation on Arcturus and that came out OK judging by the video. I doubt if it will be sensitive enough for guiding on a dimmer star with an 80mm scope though.

Reply Doug
3:15 PM on August 20, 2010 

In answer to your last question "is it useful", yes very much thanks. I never really considered the effects of the balancing of the scope which could certainly account for the differences, nor had I considered using IRIS to analyse the video file which I have gone and deleted; never mind I can do that again - taking the video is not the time consuming part and can be done on a bright start before it gets dark enough to observe the deepsky objects. WRT to my target star it does not meet the optimal needs of being on the meridian.

I did download and install the astrogeeks software and it does accept video codecs but only if the video is presented at 640x480 which is a bit of a shame. I have sent you a copy of the spreadsheet for information, although it would not should any high frequency effects being sampled at 15sec intervals, having said that you can make out where the gear teeth engage the worm through the cycle. The reference point for my correction is where the peak error transits from the 'flat' segment to the 'high rate of change' segment on the model. I believe that I have located that at -5deg from the measurements taken (I've added a photo of the dial on the DIY album).

Duty calls, I have been summoned. Thanks again,

Reply Doug
8:41 AM on August 20, 2010 

Thanks for giving my calcs the once over, I could not reconcile the difference and as you say, the behaviour is not totally predictable and as the worm moves round, the peak to peak value could change; I've noticed various values posted on the web, ranging from 70 to 120 arcsec peak to peak. I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I'll leave the corrections as per the worst case and see what sort of image rejection ratio I get and then possibly take them back down to 2/3 of that value and try those. Although I have tried to source a cheap web-cam adapted for astronomical use, most webcams are cmos sensors, although that would probably be ok for this purpose. I'll take a look at the site you recommend anyway, to see if there is any other way of automating the calculation. I should have got some good samples on Wednesday night but I must done something to defocus the images so I wasted a whole evening taking fuzzy images of M27 and M31 - lesson to check focus on an image under full zoom before committing to 25 1.5min exposures!

For the EQ6, which I have yet to measure PE, I am rapidly coming to your view on the need for autoguiding and am drawn towards to the relatively cheap Synta device which is reviewed in this month's sky at night. Unfortunately that is not really an opion on the EQ3-2 which tends to get used more as it is less hastle to set up and put away.

Reply Doug
6:42 PM on August 19, 2010 
Paul, Could you please help cast some light on a problem I have with measuring PE on the EQ3-2. I have used two methods, the first being to take still images of Arcturus every 15sec with the EOS450D through the MC127mm after first getting polar aligned, and then analysing each image to get the y pixel co-ordinate of the centre of the star (camera accurately aligned to mount xy). This gives approx 66arcsec peak to peak, based on the CCD calculator value of 0.7arcsec per pixel.

2nd method used a CCTV video camera into a video capture hardware and took approx 3 PE cycles of data using Arcturus as the target. Now since I'm not too sure on the parameters for the sensor I thought that I could calculate arcsec/pixel by relating earth motion (motor switched off) to the movement top to bottom of the star - measuring pixel position every second. This resulted in 17 image pixels per second which then gives a value of 0.88 arcsec/pixel based on an earth rate of 15arcsec per second. Having established that I went back and analysed the video (taking co-ords every 15sec) and this then gave a PE value of 105 arcsec pk to pk.

It may be obvious, but I cannot spot where I have gone wrong - any ideas? I have programmed my motor controller with values equivalent to the 105arcsec error and it works pretty well, reducing PE to noise of +/-12 arcsec - much improved but could be better possibly? Manually measuring over 450 images and bashing into a spreadsheet is not something I want to repeat.

Reply Doug
5:29 PM on May 5, 2010 
Thanks Paul. Now that the evenings are getting lighter, it actually makes it easier for me to pop round to the club on a Friday. It won't be this week as I won't be getting back from a business trip until quite late.

I need to take you up on those lessons in the use of IRIS as I've gone as far as I can without spending significant time applying trial and error to improve the end result.

Reply Doug
4:21 PM on May 4, 2010 

Just had a comment against a DIY photo of my mk3 RA motor drive from Mark regarding the availability 2V 2.5Ah D cells, and suggested that I contact you if I wanted any. The answer is yes please, to supply 12V to my EQ3 RA motor drive, so 5 or 6 cells would do the trick. I've got a constant voltage charger for 12V which I use with my 9Ah sealed lead acid pack. I'd certainly appreciate it if you could contact him.