Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NJAA's - Luna 1 Observatory, CCDWare AutoPilot V5 Setup and Test

At our last meetup, Les Tilly configured Luna1 to operate with CCDWare Autopilot V5.  Autopilot is a software environment that integrates with several different astronomical applications to automate the  targeting and acquisition of deep sky and stellar objects.  Click HERE to read about the software and watch video demonstrations of the various aspects of CCDAP5.

CCDAP5 configuration and setup to some time as expected.  Once all the parameters were entered,  the "Initialize" button was pressed that started CCDAP5 testing each segment of the setup. 

After a couple of modifications and re-initialization's of the software,  CCDAP was able to complete the process successfully.  Below is the setup panel and as you can see we are using the SkyX for principal control of Luna1 and @Focus to control the FLI PDF (Precision Digital Focuser).  Click HERE to read about the PDF.


Without getting to technical about all this stuff, one important element to understand is the pixel / sky resolution we are imaging with.  With our focal length at 1,001mm (F7.7) and the pixel size of 5.4um (Main Cam) we are at 1.11 arcsec's per pixel.

I created the below spreadsheet to show some data points including the CFZ (Critical Focus Zone) for Luna 1's imaging setup.


As you see, the CFZ ranges from 194-137 microns for the various wavelengths.   Also important is to see how many PDF focuser steps there are for the various wavelengths.  As the telescope and equipment heats and cool's, its important to focus every 15 minutes.  This is where automation using a digital focuser is necessary for autonomous operations.

We had issues with @Focus & CCDAP5, so we still need to do a bit more work on that component.  We did get the system to focus successfully even though the image screen did not display the star it selected in the focus control window.  So we will continue working this issue.

Another item to note is the FOV (Field of View) at 1.11 arcsec per pixel across the height & width of the 8300 sensor.  We have a 1.03 Deg  X  0.77 Deg FOV on the Main Cam.  Also expressed as 62 x 46 arcmin's or 3,720 X 2,760 arcsec's.  The FOV of the Guide Cam is very small at 16 X 12 arcmin's or .27 X .20 Deg's.

Why you need to know this?  If you need to "Jog" the telescope to move a star in the Guide Cam or move your target in the Main Cam, using this info, you will know how far the the object is going to move within the image frame.  Here is a snapshot of the JOG selection from the SkyX Telescope Tab.


While testing everything, we used M33 as a target for the evening.  The camera temp was set to -15 Deg (from ambient) which was quickly reached being the ambient temp was 30 Deg in Luna1. 

With the session (see below) updated taking 1 frame at a time during our testing phase, we collected 8 image frames (subs) that were 300 sec (5 min) each in duration for a total of 40 minutes combined exposure.


Les, did the integration of the frames using PixInsight.   Here is the result from the evening's testing and collection of ancient photon's that are 3 Million +/- light years away.


Thanks to everyone that attended this first of many Luna 1 educational session's.  
Clear Skies for now.
Jim Roselli