Well, with a little bit of luck… short of doing some documentation, training and the open house… and the weather holding… I’ll be at the Wilton School Systems Observatory from 2PM until 10PMish doing the final touches on Thursday.
The plan is to get there before dark and make sure everything is working and in place… then see if I can get the some sort of picture taken with the camera. This is to ensure that the camera is working and will come to focus so that I can perform the next step…Modeling.
Modeling is used for 2 things… the first is to allow a precise Polar Alignment to be made to the physical mount. The modeling finds a number of stars and stores them and then the application determines how far off the mount is from perfectly aiming at the Celestial Equator… you then use the adjustment bolts on the mount and pier to tweak it as directed by the application… then you repeat this process. An accurate Polar Alignment is needed to ensure that an object stays perfectly in center of the the field of view for extended periods of time… when you take a picture, and the stars are lines or ovals, ya have a poor Polar Alignment… if they are round dots, you’ve got a good PA!
The other use is helping to make the mount slew to objects accurately (Multi Star Alignment)… so when ya tell the mount to point at something… that it points there!
We have a thing called plate solving which is a way of fine tuning the pointing accuracy each time you have the mount look for an object… hopefully this will work in the background… we’ll see!
Before I mess with plate solving… and after I do the modeling, I’ll want to try some Electronically Assisted Astronomy… EAA… to see if I can slew to an object and have the camera take a picture and with the help of the imaging software, produce that image, in near real time, on the computer monitor. Doing this well depends on the camera, and will take a bit of trial and error… but I’m thinking that this is what we will want to do for the open house… slew to an object, and show it on the monitors and stay there until we slew to something else.
Pretty exciting stuff!