Friday, 6 December 2013

On the Fringes

I have been investigating some ways to further improve the automatic post-processing of images from the telescope. While I haven't really succeeded in that goal, the results are still interesting.This has to do with the swirling patterns seen on some images, particularly when imaged close to the horizon. In my previous post on flat-fields, these patterns were visible on the resulting image of M51.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Object of the Month: Comets

November is looking like the month for comets. With several prominent comets gracing our skies this month, we have developed a new comet targeting system, which allows you to easily take stunning images of these objects.

C/2012 S1 (ISON), Galaxy Cam

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Massively Improved Flatfield System

The telescope has had flat fielding built into it for some time now in order to improve the quality of images we return. Today I fixed some problems with how those flat-fields are applied, which will improve images enormously.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Object of the Month: Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31)

The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest large galaxy to our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is 2.5 million light-years away from us (and closing, as it is projected to collide with us in about 4 billion years time). It is the brightest messier object in the sky, and due to it's size and close distance compared to other galaxies, also appears very large. Although our eyes are not sensitive enough to see the full extent of it, it actually appears 6 times larger than a full moon.
A colour image of Messier 32, Cluster Cam

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Why we don't image below 30 degrees

We generally don't take images with Galaxy Cam lower than 30 degrees above the horizon. The reason for this is that on some nights there can be a lot of haze (and this is difficult to reliably detect). A picture I took last night with my camera demonstrates the effect this has on seeing.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

An Example of the Usual Maintainence Insanity

It's hard to get across just how hard it is to maintain the BRT and keep it running smoothly. The system is so immensely complex that when something starts acting funny, its almost impossible to work out what's gone wrong. I'd like to share what we did today to try and diagnose a big problem with the telescope.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cleaning Telescope Optics

One of the challenges associated with operating a telescope in an area which is both incredibly dry and desert-like (under the normal baking sun), but also with the potential to be very damp (when the site is inside a cloud) is that there is a combination of dust and condensation, which covers the correction plate of the telescope in a thick layer of dirt. This needs to be cleaned off regularly.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Telescope question time!

Do you have anything you want to know about the telescope site? At the end of this week is the annual open doors day here at the IAC (and this is part of the reason we are here for these particular weeks). For two days all the telescopes open up and tour groups are lead around to see what they do. In the spirit of this, we want to know if any of our users have anything they want to know?

Service trip begins

Today was the first day on site for the summer service trip and also my first time at the observatory.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Some Pictures of Galaxies

I've recently been trying to get some really nice pictures of galaxies by stacking together multiple exposures from the BRT. I'd like to share two that I have made so far.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What I'm working on

So I realise I haven't exactly been writing much on my blog so let me say a little bit about the projects I'm currently working on.

Friday, 8 February 2013

First post!

As part of our recent efforts to modernise, I now have a blog.

Let me start by introducing myself a little. My name is Edward Hand and my job at the telescope is primary schools outreach.