Kitt Peak


Above: Kitt Peak

(click on pictures to see larger images)

Ron Abbott and I spent two days and nights on Kitt Peak participating in their Advanced Observer Program. We were put up in the dorms that the visiting astronomers stay in and ate in the cafeteria with them. We spent the nights using the 16" LX200 with ST7 CCD camera taking images of deep sky objects.

visitor center This is the visitors center where the LX200 16" is housed. This is where we did all of our observing and imaging.

lx200 This is almost identical to the set up I will have in my backyard and so it was my mission to learn technique on CCD imaging with this arrangement of hardware and software. The mission was accomplished. They use The Sky and CCDSoft from Software Bisque to run their telescope and camera. It is a nice system and works well. They also have a JMI focuser and use a Meade 6.3 Focal Reducer on their LX200. I will have the same. We did mostly B&W imaging but did a three part color image of M42 just to experiment with the CFW color wheel from SBIG.


Here is the image after processing. The red exposure was for 30 seconds. The green was for 36 seconds and the blue image was for 60 seconds. All were dark field subtracted and combined in CCDSoft. We picked M42 to experiment with, because it is a relatively bright object and so we could do this quickly.

The first night we were there we got to do about three hours of imaging before clouds rolled in and cut our evening short. However we were able to get some nice images of galaxies including NGC 1253 and NGC 2283. Here are those images: NGC1253




Both images were 600 second guided exposures and the camera temperature was -20F.

After we shut down at 3AM, we were allowed into the control room of the 4 meter teelscope. That's the tallest scope on the mountain. We met two astronomers who were from the east coast and were at Kitt Peak to take spectra of red giants in globular clusters. They were just sitting around surfing the internet waiting for the clouds to clear off. They had two good nights of data and showed us some of the spectra they had shot earlier in the evening using the 4 meter. They were pretty pleased with their observing run and said it would take months to really analyze all of their data. Then we went out onto the floor of the 4 meter with the slit of the dome open and looked out through the opening at the patchy sky above. It was a religious exerience.


Here is a picture of me with the four meter in the background.


Here is an image of the globular cluster M3, which we took our second night. 180 second guided exposure. The stars in this globular cluster include some red giants and were the types of stars that these professional astronomers were looking at and taking spectra of. It is easy to see why you would need a four meter telescope to do this. The magnification required to seperate out one star from the pack must be huge!

Our second night started out overcast, but quickly cleared and we were able to do quite a bit of imaging. Among the various objects we images were:


M104, The Sombrero Galaxy. (900 sec. guided -20F)


M64, The Black Eye Galaxy. (150 sec. guided -20F)


NGC2158, An Open Cluster. (300 sec. guided -20F)


NGC2346, a Planetary Nebula called the Butterfly. This was a color image taken with 180 sec. of red, 216 sec of green and 360 sec. of blue and combined with CCDSoft.


NGC 4361, the big planetary in Corvus. (300 sec guided at -20F)


We topped off our night as the sun was coming up by taking a couple of images of the moon. These were .11 second exposures.


Here is the crater Tycho.

It was sad to leave Kitt Peak and all it's wonderous splender. Here are a few other interesting pictures:


Standing in front of the Visitors Center.

Ron Abbott

Ron Abbott.


The view from atop Kitt Peak.


The WIYN, second largest telescope on the mountain.


The Solar Telescope.


Another scope used at times in Coude.

4 meter

A model of the 4 meter mirror.


Baskets made by local Indians sold in the gift shop.


16" Balls and Scheiffler on display in the Visitors Center.


Our last look as we left Kitt Peak.

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