Telescope Movements:

I just cannot believe the pin-point pointing accuracy that I am now getting. I have switched from my Meade mount to the Takahashi NJP. It is so much more solid and accurate. It has a polar scope within the mount, so the initial polar alignment is fast and easy. I am now able to measure my usual polar accuracy to less than 60 arc-seconds. In fact two nights ago I had +6 a-seconds in DEC and +36 a-seconds in RA… for me this is unbelievable.

Summer has come and it is still hot and very humid at night even after the sun sets. Temperatures are still in the high 80's. On top of this discomfort and because of the almost daily rain, the mosquitoes are everywhere by the thousands. I am running a Mosquito Magnet, but I still need to be in long pants, and covered with mosquito repellant. You can see my motivation for moving towards client/server solutions to run the telescope and camera from indoors. Because of the ever possible rains, I am still not comfortable with using a scripting program alone and just going to bed. But I am at least partially successful with remote controls under client/server. My laptop sits next to the mount and camera at the end of the driveway, data flows over my wireless network, and for the last two nights I have been inside at my office PC with air-conditioning and no bugs while running the CCD and mount from indoors. I can still see the equipment from my office. The best imaging software does not yet run in this mode, so I have to use a less capable program. When something looks really good, I just run outdoors for a few minutes and start-up the better software on the laptop. But from the comfort of my office with the accuracy that I have been getting, it is just like running a virtual sky operation. After every slew, each photo is dead center on the imaging chip.

In addition to having a better physical mount, I am also now utilizing T-Point, sophisticated statistical pointing analysis software. I have run larger numbers of sampling points, taken by scripted collection programs that use the CCD and Astrometric measurement techniques. These samples are then statistically used to create modeling terms which in turn yield highly precise adjustments to slewing commands. The adjustments from the modeling terms overcome physical pointing errors such as tube flexture, out-of-round gears, improper centering, non-perpendicularities, and many more items. The bottom line is very very accurate telescope movements. June, 2005