How far back in time can I see with my equipment?
The summer months in Florida have been particularly inhospitable for us amateur astronomers. The temperatures exceed 90F/32C every day and there is no cooling relief at night. The resulting tropical showers and clouds appear in the late afternoon almost every day. The sky seems to only clear between 2am and 5am. While I am dedicated to this, there are limits.
Last night, for the first time in weeks, was a major exception with clear skies beginning around 8:30pm. My main goal was to attempt to break my long distance observation record which was set with the Abell 1656 Galaxy Cluster at 350 MLY in July 2005. As luck allowed, I was successful. My Takahashi TOA130 riding on its NJP mount is just a great system. With precise polar alignments and telescope movements, coupled with astrometric measurements, it was actually pretty simple. The following photographs are of Abell 2065 at "the edge of the amateur astronomer's universe." Abell 2065 is a galaxy cluster at one billion light-years, which is roughly 3x the distance of Abell 1656. The galaxies are a bit fainter, but they are still distinguishable.
I have not yet mounted the Meade 14" OTA onto the Paramount ME mount.
These distance records were achieved with a 130mm refractor having a focal
length of 1000mm. In theory anyway, the Mead SCT may give me even greater
range with its 3556mm focal length and its 356mm aperture. Something to look
August 11, 2005