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BD Software delivers on-site training seminars for programmers in C, C++, Java, Perl and Unix

 

Amateur Astronomy Images and Resources

 

In mid-August 2003, not entirely due to Mars mania (but mostly so), I decided to fulfill a lifelong yearning to get more involved in amateur astronomy. I visited Boston Telescope with a vague plan to either repair my crippled Celestron FirstScope 114 (Hale-Bopp mania...) or upgrade to something more interesting. I had no idea how evolved modern amateur telescopes have become, and walked out of there with a Meade LX200GPS 8" and a grin on my face from ear to ear. My ten-year-old son, Ray, who had accompanied me on the trip, was giving me some really funny looks...

While I try to learn the constellations and figure out how to observe, I also dabble a bit in astrophotography. Right now I'm using a Philips ToUCam Pro webcam and Registax 1.1 for image selection and stacking.

Images are listed in reverse-chronological order. Some useful resources follow.


2003 Images

[For a great explanation of sunspots, see this.]

October 30: Sunspot groups 486 and 488

October 25: Sunspot groups 484 and 486

October 20: Sunspot group 484

October 6: Moon

September 24: Mars

 

Amateur Astronomy Resources

[More to come. This is just a start.]

Clubs

North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club - My local club. Very friendly (and tolerant!) group (after all, they tolerate me as the newsletter editor and web site maintainer...)

 

Software

Registax: Freeware image processing utility

Scott Pinkham's page: Freeware LX200 remote-control utilities

RAMDisk: It took me a while, but I finally found a RAM Disk utility for XP Home that runs reliably and allows a large (~256M or more) device size. A RAM Disk can speed up Registax processing by around 30%. The version downloadable on this page is limited to 64M, but you can email the author and request the version that allows larger sizes. There is a suggested donation of $10 or so, but the software is fully functional whether or not you pay it (he says there's a nag screen, but I've never seen it)

 

LX200 Resources

Peterson Engineering: Great, useful mod kits for the LX200

 

Must-Have Books

Choosing and Using a Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope by Rod Mollise: If I'd read this before running out to buy doodads for my LX200, I would've saved myself some money and lots of grief. Reading this book feels like having my own personal amateur telescope expert guardian angel to put me on track...

Nightwatch: Probably the best "first" book on astronomy there is. Richly detailed, plenty of useful (but not intimidating) star charts, fun to read.


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