Monday, March 9, 2015

Observatory construction (Part I)

December 2014: Starting to dig the first hole (by hand!)

February 2015: Both 1 cubic meter holes finished, rebar for each column. Formwork nearly finished.

March 2015: 35cm diameter column in place and secured, ready to pour.

March 2015: Formwork ready, waiting for the concrete mixer!

March 2015: Concrete poured, nice temperature around 14ºC

March 2015: Concrete pad finished, bottom plates in place (35x35x3cm)

Monday, January 19, 2015

SKETCH: IC 1805, Heart Nebula

IC1805 with 4 inch telescope

Telescope: Astro-Physics Traveler EDF 105mm F/5.8
Eyepieces: Ethos 21 + DGM NPB
Transparency: 1/5, 21.1 SQM
Seeing: 3/5
Date: 18/12/14

Notes: Very high humidity, some high clouds. This nebula is always hard to observe and nearly invisible without filters. There are 3 bright patches, and the rest are faint arcs that are more affordable to bigger apertures.

Monday, November 10, 2014

SKETCH: NGC 281, The Pacman Nebula

NGC 281 with 4 inch telescope

Telescope: Astro-Physics Traveler EDF 105mm F/5.8
Eyepieces: Ethos 21 + DGM NPB
Transparency: 1/5, 21.1 SQM
Seeing: 2/5
Date: 23/10/14

Notes: Very hazy conditions, by the way, I've been able to make out the shape. Some dark and bright regions inside the nebula. The "mouth" was very faint.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

SKETCH: Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2)

Comet Jacques with 4 inch Refractor

Telescope: Astro-Physics Traveler EDF 105mm F/5.8
Eyepieces: Televue Ethos 8mm
Transparency: 2/5, 21.4 SQM
Seeing: 2/5
Date: 30/08/14

Notes: Very long and faint tail, some dark and bright patches on it.

Comet Jacques with 20 inch Newton

Telescope: 20" F/3.5 Newton
Eyepieces: Televue Ethos 17mm + SIPS
Transparency: 3/5, 21.3 SQM
Seeing: 2/5
Date: 28/08/14

Notes: Hard to see in so small field of view. Tail had bright and dark patches, reminding a waterfall.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


NGC 6543, 10 inch, 810x

Telescope: TEC 250mm F/12 Maksutov Cassegrain
Eyepieces: Televue Ethos 3,7
Transparency: 4/5, 21.7 SQM
Seeing: 3/5
Date: 2014

Notes: Another difficult planetary. High surface brightness, but very low contrast. Very faint extensions at the sides. Not all the "bright" zones are regular, they are formed of bright arcs, and lower contrast parts. High power, patience and perfect seeing are necessary.

Photography, finder charts

Saturday, August 2, 2014

SKETCH: NGC 6250, Barnard 86 and Djorgovski 2 (Palomar 9)

NGC 6520 with 4 inch telescope

Telescope: Astro-Physics Traveler EDF 105mm F/5.8
Eyepieces: ZAO II 16mm + Zeiss Barlow 2x
Transparency: 2/5, 21.3 SQM
Seeing: 2/5
Date: 02/08/14

Notes: Terrible conditions. Djorg 2 was outside field of view, and was extremely faint. It's not usually that faint. Barnard 86 has two zones and it's darker near the bright yellow star. The other zone shows the effect to surround NGC 6520. The bridge between two zones is somewhat darker than background, so they are not completely separated.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A trip to Cazorla

At least once per year, I usually go to find new places to observe. In the summer you can go to remote high altitude places without the risk of snow, wet roads and freezing temperatures.

It's getting harder and harder to find dark spots in Spain, the light pollution it's getting worse over the years.

This is maybe the darkest place in Spain, with 21,6-7 skies (classic SQM). High altitude of above 1700 meters and no light domes above 10-15º.

M31 is no longer a fuzzy patch, it's clearly a galaxy with nucleus and it's BIG. The milky way extends well into Ophiuchus, and it's extremely complex. The effect is that the sky itself it's glowing, it's clearly bright, without any artificial light shining distracting that view.

The seeing is mind blowing, unless the wind is coming from the South, which is hot and turbulent, and destroys transparency.

We stayed three nights, two of them were 21,4-5 SQM with excellent seeing, and one of them with 21,6-7 and average to good seeing (the weather was changing).

TEC 250 F/12 and AP 900 waiting for dusk at observing site

Above 1700m the pine trees don't grow, we found a clear spot full of thistles and rocks

Back to Madrid, inside Cazorla's National Park

Here you can see some sketches done those days:

NGC 6888, The Crescent Nebula sketch
NGC 6712 and IC 1295 sketch
NGC 7662, The Blue Snowball sketch
NGC 6826, The Blinking Planetary sketch