Welcome to the Curdridge Observatory Astronomy, Telescope and Astrophotography Blog

Welcome to the Curdridge telescope observatory astrophotography blog. We explore many aspects of astronomy and astrophotography especially including projects such as telescope mounts. We have a Newtonian reflecting telescope in our budget observatory made from fence panels. Most of our imaging is done using Astrodon narrowband filters and cooled astronomy CCD cameras.

Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
The Curdridge Observatory homepage has remained with the same theme it started with in 2002. Various links and bits have been added with little or no plan. The thing was a complete shambles.

After my recent revamp of the Recent Images page I decided to copy the theme over to the main homepage.

It has gone pretty well, except I don't have it working quite right in IE9. All the web kit browsers, Chrome, Safari etc are fine. Why can't all browsers work the bloody same, eg?

It is possible I'll through this design out and change it for something else in a few weeks, but for now at least I have a homepage that I'm not actually embarrassed about!
Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
I seem to have been very remiss in updating this blog over the last year.

The main activity this summer has been making my own Arduino based telescope control system for the homemade mount

I've also just updated the recent images directory on the site after not touching it for 2 years!

Recent Images
Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
Still in Chile, and we heard today that the VLT survey telescope has just started to produce some results with its vast 238 mega-pixel camera. This imaging system is located next to the VLT scopes we saw in the video in my previous post.

The VLT suvey telescope is going to undertake 3 major surveys overs the next 5 years resulting in a catalogue of over 500 million objects. Compare that to your average amateur GOTO telescope with a catalogue of about 50,000 objects!

This photo shows the camera itself - looks to be the size of an armchair. Slightly bigger than you average DSLR camera! It weighs in at around 770kg and contains 32 separate CCD sensors making up it huge total pixelage.

First Images from the VLT Survey Telescope



The 2.6 metre aperture ESO telescope has a staggering 238 mega-pixel camera giving something like a 1 degree. Pretty amazing.

» Read More

Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
I really enjoyed this video of a day and night cycle over the very large telescope.

The Atacama Desert plateau in South America has some of the finest conditions for astronomy on the planet. Only the summits of Hawaii and the polar plateau in Antarctica approach it. Therefore astronomers have built several telescopes in this region to take advantage of the perfect skies.

The ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) is unsurprisingly one of the larger telescopes. Until the 30 metre class scopes start coming on line, the four 8 metre class telescopes of the VLT is one of the most powerful instruments on the planet.



» Read More

Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
The BBC new website as a report today about bringing UK clocks into line with the rest of Europe. This would result in darker mornings and longer, lighter evenings. Bad news for Astronomers.

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Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
A day late, but never mind - best wishes to all for the New Year.

Here's hoping that 2011 brings some long clear moonless nights - these last 3 months have been very poor for astrophotography.

Do we have any New Year's resolutions? I doubt it - I'm not very good at such things, but let us at least resolve to take advantage of any breaks in the weather that come our way.

Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
The last few days has seen every type of weather. Rain, heavy snow, mist, fog and intense cold. However, astronomy weather has been in short supply for a couple of months.

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Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
We suffer a lot of pain in the astro-imaging hobby. Bad luck and tired fingers causes numerous problems. Problems in this business quickly means wasted imaging time. Whilst I like to whinge and complain as much as the next man, I always remember to thank the astronomy gods when I have a good problem free run.

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Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
This is a purely personal rant. All astronomers need their egos stroking... however, constructive criticism is infinitely more valuable than a three word compliment....

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Category: General
Posted by: Tom How
The old classic Meade LX200 is a fine telescope, but has that one major drawback of any SCT telescope: A fork mount Alt/Az mount. Whilst this is quick and easy for visual observing, it makes decent astrophotography almost impossible. You need some kind of adjustable wedge to allow the scope to be mounted up at a 50 degree (or whatever your latitude) angle.

Because of the mass of the LX200, this needs to be a sturdy bit of engineering. Most commercial SCT telescope wedges fit into two categories. They are either flimsy and floppy and downright dangerous (i.e. useless) or they are well made and prohibitively expensive.

Of course, a homemade wedge can solve both these problems at once, and have some fun. Read the rest of the article to find out more.

» Read More

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