Blog of Lunatico Astronomia

Exoplanet hunting for the bored astronomer

I'm not the first to become a bit tired of shooting pretty pictures every night. Maybe it's just I'm not too self-demanding, but I can only make so many pictures with the same telescope and camera.

Looking for something else to do with my time and equipment, I decided to give a try and capture an exoplanet transit. It helped my son chose this as his high-school research project. Once he ended, I started by myself.

So far it's being quite an adventure.

I use the exoplanet transit database (http://var2.astro.cz/ETD/index.php) to look for a suitable transit. For any given night, I choose



Some notes about cloud detection and the CloudWatcher

Cloud detection is, unfortunately, not straightforward. Nobody has yet found a fail-proof way to determine the degree of cloudiness of the sky, other of course than the human eye, and then not always!

The CloudWatcher, as most devices, uses IR measurement as the basic tool to determine if the sky is clear or not.

A clear sky has a lower IR reading than a cloudy one.

Other conditions, however, also affect the measurement, such as the ambient temperature, the humidity, the density and size of particles in the



Making the Solo, Platypus or Dragonfly more easily accessible in the network

With recent Windows 10 "updates", and the treatment Microsoft is giving to all computers and networks, as if all were in a "high risk" zone, many security policies conspire to make simple devices, such as our Dragonfly, Platypus or SOLO CloudWatcher, more difficult to access in the network.

With a few tricks, however, this can be overcome in no time:




How to drill aluminium

The Lunático plates, and others, are designed for been apt to be easily adapted for the use that you wish to give them.

That is the reason why we make them in solid aluminium that shows much less machining problems that extruded forms.

We need:

Indispensable:

  • A power drill (to be able to drill at low speed). A pillar drill makes the operation easier, but it is not necessary.
  • A drill bit for metal of the appropriated diameter (it is better to make the hole a little larger –1 mm for example– than necessary in order to have a certain margin)


Node-RED tutorial (for Dragonfly and CloudWatcher SOLO)

From Lunático we have been playing around a little bit with Node-RED – as they say “...a programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways.

Truth is, it is fun, quite easy, and very useful and interesting things can be accomplished with relatively little effort.

I set my self to test and display a few data from the Solo, but ended up with a mostly complete dashboard:



Why is it best to guide with a short scope?

Autoguiding is one of the most challenging tasks to master in astrophotography; nowadays, with digital cameras (CCD or CMOS), manual guiding makes no sense, as it is almost impossible to keep the required accuracy, even more with the ever-increasing exposure times everyone is using.

There are quite a lot of misconceptions regarding the ideal scope (and camera) for guiding; enlarging the focal length, sometimes even adding barlow lenses, is probably one of the most popular.


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