Oak Ridge Observatory Jan 3, 2009

Chris Kitting and I rendezvous'd to use the newly installed Meade LX200gps with equipment we plan to use in support for the LCROSS mission by NASA later this - year - imaging the lunar south pole and north pole regions where the LCROSS mission will impact and send up a debris plume which will hopefully prove the existence of ice at the poles. Chris used the Meade DSI - 3 with and without a UV filter, also for imaging Venus at high magnification for studies of the upper atmosphere. I also brought our new Nikon D40 with the intention of testing it as a wide-angle imaging camera for use in Astro 8 and Astro 9. These were proof-of-concept studies now, working out the bugs of using the new scope and equipment and verifying that the UV filter would detect upper atmosphere features on Venus - features for which we still do not have an adequate understanding.

It was cold! in the 20's F. That's relevant for the uncooled DSI 3 and our new Nikon D40 for considering the observed digital noise level. Passing cirrus affected the Orion shots below. The red cast is likely due to sodium vapor lights from San Jose reflecting off the cirrus.

Chris inserts the UV filter for the DSI-3

If I look cold, it's because I am! Getting unfiltered eyepiece projection video footage of Venus

Me 'n Chris, with our 3rd eye (Hindu sign of enlightenment!) shining brightly (or maybe it's just LED's)

Nikon D40: Orion, unguided for 30 seconds, "fine" jpg setting, ISO 1600 w/ noise reduction on (i.e. auto dark subtract), zoom at 18mm. No photoshop'ing except 'save for web', left at 300pixels/inch. This image is a large quantum leap ahead of what the Dimage A1 camera could do.

Nikon D40: Orion, unguided for 30 seconds, "fine" jpg setting. ISO 3200 (max available) w/ noise reduction on. Maximum zoom in 55mm. No photoshop'ing except 'save for web', left at 300pixels/inch at 'low' jpg quality to reduce size

Nikon D40: Orion, unguided for 8 seconds, "fine" jpg setting, ISO 3200 w/ noise reduction on. Maximum zoom in 55mm, no photoshop'ing except 'save for web', left at 300 pixels/inch at 'medium' jpg quality to reduce size.

Same as previous image, but Photoshop'ed: curves, 2x 'space noise reduction', 3x 'make stars smaller'.

I'm impressed with the D40's sensitivity and image quality compared to the older Dimage A1, which is not even remotely close to the same quality. However, a major disappointment is that the spectral sensitivity does not appear to include the H-alpha line. Note the Orion Nebula only shows the trapezium and not the nebulosity.

I'll put in a Registax reduction of my Venus footage when I get a chance, and moon footage.