Close Asteroid Pass

LINEAR picked up a small rock now called 2011 MD that will be as close 12,000 kilometers (7500 miles) to the earth Monday the 27th about 12:00 noon, Topeka time. The rock will whiz by about 6.7 km/second actually fairly slow for a rock this close. We won’t be able to see it here at it’s closest. It’ll be deep in the southern hemisphere passing over the Antarctic while exiting the immediate vicinity of the earth.
The rather crude video shows the asteroid Saturday night.
Lance Benner has secured some time on the Goldstone radar facility to try and get a ‘radar picture’ of this ~10 meter object. Bill Gray has stated he didn’t think it was a piece of space junk but is natural. (real rock – not man made).
Gary Hug

latency testing

I finally got around to running a few trials of the latency test with the STL1001E CCD camera as described in MaximDL CCD software.

The result shows the delay from the time the computer tells the camera to open to when the CCD actually starts to register an image.

Surprisingly the delays ranged from 0.02 seconds to 0.09 seconds in 25 trials. The most common delay was 0.03 seconds. An average of 0.04 seconds is the delay that I ended up adding to the time in the fits register. So every image I take will now include this very minor adjustment to the U.T. start time.

The folks at SBIG did a really great job with their shutter system.


new roof drive

I have stiffened the gable and the mounting for the new roll-off roof drive at Sandlot and gained a lot of reliability & performance in the drive system. Now the roof rolls off in less than 45 seconds (about 13′ of movement); and also closing in 45 seconds.

Apply this same rate to Farpoints 33′ of movement needed to fully open or close the roof, the roof movement should take about 2 & 1/2 times as long (just under 2 minutes each way). The unit is still not as smooth as I would have hoped but I now know how to accomplish that. The shape of the hub prongs need to be spherical instead of just 1 dimensionally round. I’m encouraged my 1/6th HP motor seems to work OK but maybe just a bit underpowered. If and when we switch over Farpoint’s cable system to this hub style drive I’m estimating a 1/2 HP motor will be needed.

But maybe at the next board meeting we should discuss proceeding with Farpoint’s roof drive conversion. Alternatively, with an in pouring of copious of amounts grant money (somewhere around 25 to 30K dollars) we can convert to a dome which, I believe, would nearly double the amount of time the Tombaugh is usable for imaging via increased wind protection. A dome would also provide greater security especially if we would operate the system via the web.

The dome can be slaved to the telescope operation so that where ever the telescope is pointed the dome drive will move the slit to accommodate.

I really don’t want to go through work and expense of changing the roof drive we currently have and then latter remove it in favor of a dome..


motor and gear reducer

Farpoint Mantainence

I went to Farpoint yesterday morning (3-30-11) and replaced one of the pulleys for the roof cable.  Actually the other pulley will need to be replaced too.  I’ll try and remember to do that but for now it’s working OK.

I also made and installed a holder for the end of the shaft on the cable reel.   This will limit the radial movement and should help stabilize the roof roll-out system.