Astraeus Observatory is located in Central Kentucky, approximately 800 feet above sea level, with an unobstructed view of the night sky and miles from the nearest light polluted city. With plenty of dark skies, the bright band of the Milky Way is clearly visible and naked eye objects such as M42 and M31 easily stand out. Housed in the completely motorized 10 foot Technical Innovations Pro-Dome, is a 10” Meade LX200GPS, which I control using The Sky X SAE (Software Bisque), running on my MacBook Air. Construction started in mid 2008 and was finished in late 2009. Pictures of that adventure can be found here or by clicking on the Construction link above. Feel free to have a look around the site and please contact me if you have any questions or comments. You’ll also find observing log notes and other short blog posts listed below, and in the Archived section of this site.
Thanks and clear skies,
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I finally had a few minutes to update some things on the site. Unfortunately, I needed to remove the Lindsay Schwarzwaelder (Riley) tweets from the Current Conditions page. She’s moved on to Texas, and somehow I don’t think that the conditions in Fort Worth are that relevant to the site now. You’ll always be awesome though Lindsay, no matter where you are! Cool last name (Riley), by the way.
Have an awesome Thanksgiving weekend!
The recent storms took a toll on the electric/power box in my observatory. With the amount of lightning the past few weeks, I’m lucky that it stopped at this. It’s a bad feeling when you insert the key and press the shutter switch and nothing happens, especially when this is the only way into the observatory. Fortunately, after an hour or so, I was able to get in. I narrowed it down to a blown circuit breaker (the square black box that you see in the top righthand of the picture). $15 and a couple of days later, we’re back in business! Replacing the whole box would have ran me $125! I just purchased a bigger and better surge protector tonight, so it’s going into the observatory first thing tomorrow!
Temperature: Low 70′s
Length of session: 1 1/2 Hours
Additonal Notes: Cool for August, but very clear
For some fun, I decided to try an iPhone app called Meteor Counter, for use during the latest Perseid meteor shower. While the app was fun, it was a bit cumbersome. Starting and stopping the recording session was not clear, and it would be very easy to accidentally upload a bunch of faulty data back to NASA. One thing that I did not like was the voice recordings. The instructions weren’t clear about how this worked. As far as I know, I uploaded a 1 1/2 hour private conversation. You would at least think that you’d have to press a button to record, but the app seems to record everything. I would at least hope that it’d be just a few seconds after recording each meteor seen. The app could be great, it just needs a little work. On the bright side, we saw 42 meteors, with at least 6 being in the -3 or brighter magnitude range. These, along with several others left amazing smoke trails.
A few pictures of before, and after, Thursday’s storm. Continuing the weird July weather as of late. The second picture reminds of the bat signal. Dark Knight Rises premiered a few hours later. Coincendence, or not?
With Apple getting rid of iWeb and also MobileMe (where I previously had the site hosted), I figured it was time for an upgrade. The site was a couple of years old and had started to become stale anyway. I’ve completely redesigned everything from the ground up. This time it’s powered by WordPress and hosted by FatCow. FatCow, by the way, has been awesome! I can’t say enough about these guys (no, I’m not getting paid to say this ). They have an incredible support team and their data center is totally wind-powered, which made the switch from GoDaddy a no-brainer.
Anyway, I’ve still got a little tweaking to do, and a few more things to add, but it was close enough to go live. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
When I first built the support for the pier (which you can see in the Construction photos), I had caulked around the base, allowing the concrete to touch the deck boards. My goal was to keep the insects and field mice out. I had no idea at the time, that the small bead of caulk would allow vibrations to be picked up (between the floor and pier). Since the telescope was due for a good cleaning, I broke everything down and decided to tackle the problem. I had planned to remove the caulk, but after finding some pre-cut rubber at a hardware store, I decided to give it a shot. I’m thinking that this 1/4” barrier between the concrete and steel pier will kill the vibrations I’m seeing. I’ve got it installed, everything leveled once again, and the only way I’ll know is to test it during my next night out.
The weather this spring has been horrendous. The picture above is a perfect example. About 45 minutes after this was taken, pea sized hale started raining down along with a ridiculous thunderstorm. It can’t do this forever, so hopefully the weather clears soon.
Note: the picture is a pano, taken with my iPhone.
I’ve got to admit, when it comes to updating the observing log on this site, I’ve been a bit lazy. I haven’t used the observatory as much as I had planned during the past year either, mostly due to a work schedule that only gave me the opportunity on the weekends, and even then I usually skipped out on updating my online observing log. I’m back to more of a regular work schedule now, and that should allow me to take advantage of weekdays. Something that I’ve missed for a long time. My friend Scott, who often observes with me, mentioned that he had been searching Craigslist to see if I had sold everything and quit the hobby.
I think it’s going to be a great summer!
Temperature: Upper 30′s
Length of session: 3 hours
Additonal Notes: Slightly Humid
Well, we originally had this planned a few months ago, but with the awful weather that we experienced this winter and clear skies no where to be seen, it took until March before things finally worked out. I’d like to thank Angela Gullette and her Girl Scout troop from Frankfort. We had around 15 observers (Girl Scouts and parents) show up, and everyone took turns at both the observatory and the other telescopes we had set up. The girls were working on their astronomy badge, so Angela also had some other projects scheduled for them, under the stars.
The other scopes above are: (from left to right)
8″ Celestron – Schmidt Cassegrain (belongs to my friend Scott)
100mm Orion Astroview Refractor
13″ Coulter Optical Dobsonian, a pure classic (belongs to my friend Scott)
I’d also like to say thanks and give a big shout-out to Scott for coming out too, and also for hauling an SUV full of equipment to Astraeus! And last, but not least, to my wife for keeping everyone warm with the hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies.