Refurb'ing Cabrillo Observatory
Summer 2014


Summer - finally some unscheduled time, to refurbish the steel shipping container addition to the observatory.

First round had Karl and I putting up 4'x8' plywood sheeting against the steel walls, in May. That went well, despite the kicked-in north end of the shed. I did some other visits on free afternoons over the following weeks to install the remaining plywood walls, and make some more trips to Home Depot.

June 17/18
Then came the first asteroid occultation in quite a while. Weather promised no fog this night - so I hatched a plan: finish the shelving in one marathon 24hr period, spending the o'er-night at the observatory and get the asteroid occultation of Cordova at 1:16am. I got the shelving done! 16' of 32" wide tabling with 19/32" plywood, and a second higher shelf 14" wide and also 16' wide, and a shelf for the 10". The asteroid event didn't go as well, since the 12" is currently "blind"; I gave up waiting for the 0.5x focal reducer from Knight Owl, and ordered one from HighPoint Scientific, but its focal length causes the image point to shift outward enough that I'll need an extension tube. So it was useless that night. The widefield finder pc164c apparently got bumped by one of the 4th graders who toured the Observatory recently, and I couldn't calibrate it. Still, after an hour, I'd been able to get the target star/asteroid on the CCD chip for a star-trail method attempt. But 5 minutes before the event, the telescope hit a limit switch and I was forced to do a meridian flip - and lost the target when it was finished. Derek Breit had a miss from 8km N, close to my own 3 km S track, so it likely was a miss from Cabrillo as well.

Photographing Comet K1-PanSTARRS turned out better. I got eight 5min shots with the ST2000xcm on the 12" scope, stacked in Registax 5.1, and processed in Photoshop also including Astronomy Tools actions. After this, I photo'd M82, but the supernova had faded enough that it was no longer visible on the 5 min images I took.

Tuesday afternoon June 17; got the second table in and started on the second shelf.

After dark, I put on some climate-related YouTube videos to listen to, and poked through the usual web resources to see what I might photograph. One obvious choice was M82 and its fading supernova. Another turned out to be Comet K1-PanSTARRS, whose best night for photography turned out to be tonight, as it heads closer to the sun and yet was still up in a moonless western sky for an hour or so after twilight.

Next morning I slept till 7:30, then went to work again, finishing the second shelf, then cleaning up.