Staring @ the Sun, 26

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2/17/2010. Ask and it shall be sold to you... An ADM Vixen to D adapter turned up on Astromart for around half price all up. Putting that on the LXD-55 in place of that oak wedge cut from leftover flooring will let me casually, toollessly mount the solar kit on the Mach1, G11, Giro, or LXD-55, whichever is handy.

And I found a way to use Focus Magic. The website says it won't work under 64-bit Windows, but I found lots of blog- and web-posts from people who were using it with 32-bit Photoshop even on 64-bit Windows systems. So I was pretty sure that there was nothing incompatible with 64-bit Windows 7 per se -- maybe it won't install, or maybe it won't run with 64-bit Photoshop. I finally realized that if Acronis will let me mount my C: image from before the meltdown, then just maybe I can run the copy of Photoshop stored in the Acronis-imaged and mounted Progam Files directory. And because that's the 32-bit version of PS, maybe Focus Magic (which is already installed in that image) would work, too. Bingo. Whether these were reasonable guesses or not, it worked like a charm. I put an icon on my desktop right next to the "mount drive" icon, the better to remember to do it.

After a few very successful passes at my M6.6 flare photo, Focus Magic let it be known that it was running in trial mode. I found my registration code from last July. But the program rejected it as invalid. The program suggested I contact its authors for a new code. Well, fat chance, thought I, that that will be routine... but it was! I filled out the form, and ten minutes later had a new code. Pretty impressive. What's more impressive is that the new code works. Expect better images soon.


2/18/2011. Two active regions, a few openings in the clouds... exercise for the grab n'go outfit. Here's the better placed sunspot group AR 1161 and its extensive magnetic influences. AR 1158 is rotating toward the solar limb and is foreshortened. Maybe when it is on the limb, there will be fireworks to see.



Lunt 60Tha+50DS, Point Grey Chameleon
1 barlow, 300 frames
Registax, Focus Magic


2/25/2011: Simplify. I modified the top plate for a Linhof Heavy Duty Professional tripod to accept the LXD55 (i.e., I put it under the drill press and replaced the fixed 1/4x20 stud with a hole for a 3/8x16 bolt). The Giro altaz mount had been living on the Linhof legs. It and the little Meade equatorial can now be swapped at will. Using the Linhof rather than the Gitzo 328 tripod makes for a more stable, substantial outfit, and the geared column should provide more comfortable viewing. Carrying the LXD55 around the yard on the Gitzo tripod was a trial because that outfit was so top-heavy. The Linhof-supported rig is heavier but balances better. We'll see if the net effect is to make it more or less portable. I also think the LXD55 / Linhof combination will be adequate for using the 6" F5.9 achromat for stargazing. It balances reasonably well with the addition of one 11-lb Losmandy weight (mounted using that counterweight adapter I turned for the Giro's counterweight arm), but that OTA is near the outer limits of what I want to ask these gears to hold and aim. (Which reminds me: I have a "Warp's drive" kit here to install for quieter, more repeatable performance, but I have not yet felt the urge to get dirty doing that.) Note: maybe replace the "cradle lock knob" with a 5/16x24 socket cap bolt of appropriate length so that I don't inadvertantly release the LXD55 cradle (verify the thread size).


2/26/2011: Quick look off the porch, between the trees, as two new active regions rotate into view:



Introducing AR 1163 and 1164
Best 10% of 300 frames
Registax, FocusMagic, Photoshop
Lunt LS60THa50DS, Point Grey Chameleon
FlyCap on auto-exposure


3/01/2011: A few days' solar rotation brings the new active regions into better view. Spaceweather suggests that the 1163 and 1164 AR's are now known by one name, AR 1164, or perhaps the area toward top right is merely the remnant of 1163. An active region by any other name... unusually steady air produced this view from the porch (note: stand very still when videoing from the porch, lest your footsteps shake the Sun).


AR 1164 with B- and C-class flares in progress
Best 40% of 300 frames
Registax, FocusMagic, Photoshop
Lunt LS60THa50DS, Point Grey Chameleon
FlyCap set for +15db, 4ms exposures.

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                   © 2011, David Cortner