Adrien is finding true north so we can correctly align the mount.
Daniel is verifying that the pier adaptor plate is pointed north.
Now Adrien and Daniel bolt down the base of the telescope pier.
The mounting bracket and power supply is attached to the pier.
Now Dr. Sugerman brings the mount onto the pier. It doesn't look it but this little German-Equatorial mount weighs well over 40 lbs.
The mount is bolted into the power supply, then the counter-balance bar is installed.
Now we attach the power supply and control panel.
We fired up the mount and it functioned as expected.
Here we are testing out the GPS unit so the telescope can set itself up (fancy, huh?)
Daniel adds the counter-balance weights.
And finally, for the optical tube.
It is really bulky more than heavy so it took two of us...
...so it took two of us and a lot of sweat to slide the assembly into the mount.
Grrrrrr, we got it up!
The you go, one fully set up 14-in Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Goucher's newest addition to the growing observatory.
The next night, we went up for "first light." Here is a view of the dome with our SRT (small radio telescope) dish in the background.
Daniel cools off a bit outside since the dome was very stuffy.
With the eyepiece and viewfinder in place, the telescope must be rebalanced.
A few marks on the dovetail will help us find good balance later.
Now we have to run through the start-up sequence, which includes aligning the polar axis. Of course, to do that, you have to know which star is Polaris.
Adrien having some fun trying to blind us with his flashlight.
It was a pretty lousy night for observing, with light haze and high humidity, so it was hard to see many stars. For example, so few stars from the Big Dipper were clear, that we started by arguing whether one of them was the north star.
When in doubt, pull the star charts out.
Of course, it helps to be able to see more than 3 stars....
We finally agreed on Polaris before it disappeared behind some haze.
Daniel is going through the alignment procedure so the telescope knows where in the sky it is pointing. First you find the star in the viewfinder...
While Daniel does the alignment, here are few long-exposure shots that Adrien took of the observatory.
Here we are discussing whether the telescope mount is pointed north. Guess what... We are about 20-degrees off. So the whole thing has to come off the mount and repositioned. *sigh*
Well as long as we are open, we decide to do a 'first light' picture of Jupiter. With a digital SLR attached to the back of the telescope...
...you let vibrations damp out and then take the picture.
Here is a short exposure of Jupiter, taken with a Nikon D300 at f/11. Remember, this was with a misaligned telescope, on a hot night with high humidity and Jupiter was low in the sky. Still, not too shabby.
The medium exposure starts to show its moons. The Great Red Spot is behind the planet but you can see nice structure in Jupiter's bands.
Jupiter with three of its moons, from inside to out, Io, Europa and Ganymede. Callisto is on the other side of the planet and out of this frame.
Well, things will have to wait until tomorrow to fix the alignment, so we closed up for the night.
There is the finished product, complete with a custom "accessory" station.
This is true-color image of M57 (the Ring Nebula) captured on a Nikon D300 at f/11 with a 30-sec exposure time taken on Aug 21.
Here is a zoomed-in version of the Ring Nebula.
Combination of 5 images taken at prime focus with a Nikon D300 at f/11 and 1/40 sec exposures. You can see the great red spot near top left, and near the bottom, the shadow of Callisto.