Feder Observatory

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Archive for the ‘Observing Log’

Observing log, 10/8/2014 0

Posted on October 09, 2014 by Matt

Nathan Walker, Elias Holte and I observed this evening. The science targets were NGC 6946, TReS-2 b and EY UMa. Seeing was very good (FWHM of 5-6 with focus of 2831, air temperature of 28F) but we hit a number of issues:

  • We forgot to turn on TCS after shooting calibration frames (got some nice star trails, though!)
  • The V filter looks very “foggy”, as it has on occasion in the past. Should probably be cleaned again.
  • Windows had to reinstall the camera driver. Again.
  • I left briefly, and when I returned the telescope was “trailing” again. Wre weren’t sure why, but resetting TCS to user default settings seemed to fix it, for a while, until…
  • …star trails, again. After trying several things I went out to the dome and noticed the hand paddle that hangs from the back of the telescope was pressing against the camera because of the orientation of the telescope. It was pushing down the “N” button (which explained the green “N” I was seeing in TCS) so I rotated the paddle 180 degrees and was back in business.
  • But only for a little while, because the camera died suddenly. Made another trip to the dome and found that the power brick had fallen of the pedestal, unplugging the camera. Plugged it back in and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Nathan and Elias left around 11:30PM, I stayed until around 7AM.

I changed the focus to 2821 around 2AM, temperature had dropped to around 20F.


Matt Craig

Observing Log 9/18/2014 0

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Juan

Juan and Matt out here with Lauren U, Brian T., Erin A., and Brandon C. for telescope training.  “Interesting night” in the cursed sort of “interesting” way.

Computer would not power on: Initially the computer would not power on.  We played with the cords and so on and came to the conclusion it could be either the power supply or the (watch) battery for the BIOS.  However, as the I (Juan) took the kiddos out to the dome to learn how to open up the dome, Matt got the computer to boot.  No magic.  He unplugged it for a few seconds, then plugged it in.  This had already been attempted, but hey, “interesting”…

Camera Drivers self-immolated again: Then we discovered that the computer was not recognizing the camera.  It turned out we had to install the Apogee camera driver (again, this happened a few weeks ago).  Something is seemingly wiping out the driver.

Camera focus was far off the model we have been using in the past: We next pointed the telescope using http://nova.astrometry.net/ and discovered we had the focus really far off (preventing a astrometric solution).

For a temperature of 72F we discovered we had to get the focus to 2865 (about 20 above where our previous solutions were) to get things in focus, but it was astounding seeing (FWHM of 3 pixels!).

Finally, the kiddos take pictures: First target of the night, M13 (The Hercules Cluster)… and nothing, because the telescope was off in position by about 50 arcminutes (confirmed by astrometry.net).  As clouds rolled in we did finally get a picture of M13…

And were not able to shutdown calmly:  Maxim DL lost track of its Camera Control Window.  Quitting it and restarting it seemed to make it recover the window.

Thus ends the “interesting” night….

Observing Log, 9/16/2014 0

Posted on September 17, 2014 by Matt

Observed tonight with Nathan Walker, Laura Herzog and Michael Meraz.  The main focus was on reviewing/learning setup and shutdown procedures but we did take some images of M57 (Ring Nebula) in R-band only (to limit time spent on taking flats).


Air temperature was about 60F, focus set to 2845 with FWHM of 5.5-6.5.


Matt Craig


Observing Log, 9/5/2014 0

Posted on September 05, 2014 by Matt

No science observing was done tonight, but there was a public night so we opened up the dome.


We hit a problem we hadn’t hit before: the telescope computer forgot that it knew about the camera. After a little while windows recognized that there was “new” hardware and offered to install the driver. Doing that got the camera working again.

Incidentally “we” is Matt Craig and Juan Cabanela.


Temperature was approximately 65F and focus was set to 2545 with seeing around 7px FWHM.

Observing Log, 5/21/2014 0

Posted on May 22, 2014 by Matt

Observed EY UMa, MY Aql and M82 tonight, along with a couple of Landolt fields.

Temperature was around 55F, focus set to 2845 and seeing was very good (4.5-6 FWHM, and fairly steady).

Uneventful night, though it seemed like there were many more cosmic rays than usual — I saw several in a small area of the frame over the course of an hour.



Observing log, 4/21/2014 0

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Matt

Went to the observatory tonight with the goal of taking data on EY UMa and M82. It took a few minutes at the beginning of the night to push the telescope back up to vertical, but initialization was quick after that using astrometry.net’s web service to get the pointing.


Seeing was lousy–jumped from FWHM around 5 to 15. Focus was initially set to 2840 and the temperature was about 50F. By around 11PM the “stars” looked awful…think blurry pacman (see below).


Adjusted focus, which didn’t help a lot, and moved the dome, which was partially blocking the field of view. Patchy clouds came in after that…and then had to leave earlier than planned because a child at home wasn’t feeling well.

Bottom line: Got data only on EY UMa, and that data is of marginal quality.


Bean-shaped stars. Bad :(

Observing log, 4/4/2014 0

Posted on April 05, 2014 by Matt

Laura, Nathan, Hollee  and I observed tonight. It was cloudy until 1:45AM so the first several hours were spent taking calibration images, including a set of flats to check linearity.

One important lesson from the night: DO NOT HAVE TRACKING TURNED ON WHILE TAKING FLATS. Nothing bad happened, but the orientation of the telescope was changing over the few hours we were doing flats and if it had gone much further the diffuser would have fallen off.

The only science object of the night was M82, observed in BVR.

Temperature was 33F, focus 2814 with FWHM between 5 and 6 pixels.

Observing Log, 4/1/2014 0

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Matt

I went observing this evening; conditions were excellent throughout the night (consistent seeing, though the focus needed to be adjusted around 3:45AM because the temperature had gone down).


Air temperature started around 23F, focus set to 2795. Focus was changed to 2785 around 3:45AM because it had cooled off.


  • M82 (enough images to get SNR on the supernova, but not enough to make pretty pictures)
  • UZ Vir, discussed in this article by Sodor, et al., because it had a maximum early-ish in the evening (12:40PM) and I’d like to try and reproduce their results (by which I really mean make my curve line up with theirs).
  • EY UMa, because I’m here, it is up, and there was a maximum forecast around 5AM.
  • The standard field SA104


  • The filter wheel briefly stopped working because the set screw was too tight. I think that is because it has warmed up considerably since the last time it was adjusted and the wheel could no longer turn.
  • The dome wasn’t lined up with the scope perfectly. Fixed by manually steering the dome a bit and setting its azimuth to the telescope’s azimuth.
  • Batteries in the reticle are dead.
  • I forgot to connect the scope to MaxImDL, so header patching will be more fun than usual.

Other than that it was smooth sailing!

“Observing” Log, 3/1/2014 0

Posted on March 01, 2014 by Matt

I use the term “observing” very loosely here.

Beautifully clear night when I arrived around 8PM, almost no wind, just like the forecast said.

Had a few minutes to spare before the object I was interested in would be up so I decided to update a bit of software on the computer. No problem, then I connected the camera, again no problem.


  • The telescope decided it should slew to the star I was going to initialize on by taking the long way from zenith to the 2 degrees from zenith it needed to move. Ended up like in the picture below.
  •  The camera didn’t seem to appreciated having its cord unceremoniously unplugged. The computer no longer recognized the camera and claimed the “USB Device was damaged”.
  • Apparently my judgment was damaged too, because I decided to fix the problem by reinstalling the driver.
  • Several reboots and a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans later the computer still claimed the camera was damaged so I went back out to the dome.
  • The camera’s fan sounded like it was breathing so I jiggled the power cord; after that it sounded better so I went back inside. Maybe it was complaining about the temperature, around -15F.
  • I plugged the USB cable back into the back of the computer, and…success! After two hours the camera can talk to the computer.
  • Not trusting TCS to steer the telescope to a star I decided to shoot a pic, fit astrometry to it, and use that to initialize the telescope direction, which confirmed what I thought when I went out to the dome: it was cloudy 🙁
  • Called it a night at that point.

NOTE: The camera power cord is in the control room…that way it will be able to bend when taken back out to the dome so that it can be placed in a more stable position.



Observing Log, 2/25/2014 0

Posted on February 26, 2014 by Matt

Several people were out tonight: Nathan, Ankit, Laura, Michael and I.

There were camera connection problems early in the evening that got resolved around 11:30PM, followed by TCS freezing up. We went through a manual shutdown/re-zenithing of the telescope. Pointing was a bit off so we got the location of the telescope by taking a 30 second exposure that we uploaded to astrometry.net to get a RA/Dec.

After that the evening was smooth for a while. Observed a maximum of EY UMa, then some M82, but in both cases clouds started to get in the way.

The standard field SA104 was also observed.

Then the filter wheel froze up…and spontaneously started working again about 15 minutes later.

Took diffuser flats in V, B, R, then left around 6:30 AM.

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