Roper Mountain Astronomers

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  • September 17, 2022 2:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Oftentimes we retire an old laptop because it has become out of date or the hardware no longer meets our needs. I have found that converting an old laptop to a Linux operating system commonly adds life to a piece of equipment which would normally be sent to be recycled. Such was the case with my small HP Laptop which had seen better days. Instead of getting rid of it, I decided to convert it to a Linux Mint OS laptop. This is a variety of Ubuntu Linux which includes a ton of native drivers (which can sometimes be an issue with Linux) and has a user interface which feels a lot like Windows or a Mac.

    My intent was to use this laptop as a secondary Astrophotography laptop for my smaller rig. Equipment I was interested in running:
    1. Skywatcher HEQ5 Equatorial GoTo Mount
    2. ZWO 533 MC Pro Cooled multi-color camera
    3. Orion StarShoot Autoguider Camera
    4. RedCat51 Telescope

    Functionally I needed to have Planetarium Software to drive the mount, guider software for my guide scope/camera, plate solving, and imaging software to capture images for stacking.

    Here is the software I installed:
    1. KStars (Planetarium as well as INDI Server software (Replaces ASCOM)
    2. EKOS Plugins for KStars. This is the backbone of the system for imaging, as it interfaces the mount, guiding, and image sequencing into one interface
    3. Caffeine (Keeps laptop from going to sleep)
    4. X11VNC Server (Remote desktop software that allowed me to control the laptop from inside my house)
    5. Discord (So that I can chat with my fellow Astronomy enthusiasts while imaging)

    A couple of things I learned:
    1. The internal EKOS guiding software is very good. So much so that I uninstalled PHD2 in favor of the internal guiding
    2. Take time and install ALL of the index files for plate solving. The solving software is quite good as well and allows for incremental solving to a ratio of accuracy
    3. Using the Startup wizard in KStars was key to success. It finds all the drivers and asks you all of the questions the system needs to know. You will manually need to set up Aperture and Focal length to have successful plate solves.
    4. If you want your planetarium experience to be similar to Stellarium, take the time to download the enhanced view files.

    As a bonus, if you are a fan of EAA, or you are a planetary imager, the ZWO Studio suite is available natively on Linux.

    For processing, nothing beats Pixinsight, and guess what....Pixinsight is built originally FOR LINUX. In fact, when you use Pixinsight on your Windows laptop, it is a PORT of the software from the Linux Version.

    Feel free to message me on Discord if you have specific questions about this configuration. Most of this software is available from the package manager located in the start menu of Linux Mint.

    Clear Skies!
    -David

  • September 17, 2022 8:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year. But that’s not all. Jupiter will also make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years! This happens because Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning the planets will pass each other at different distances throughout the year. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary. At its closest approach, Jupiter will be approximately 365 million miles in distance from Earth. The massive planet is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.

    /https://blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/2022/09/16/jupiter-to-reach-opposition-closet-approach-to-earth-in-70-years/


  • April 14, 2022 7:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Our RMA speaker from last month is featured in several articles about the confirmation of the largest known comet. Last month David Jewitt discussed with the club details of comet discovery, and this month he is one of the team that used the Hubble telescope to confirm the size of the largest know comet to date. Check out the article on NASA's website
  • February 26, 2022 10:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We have some exciting news to share! The Roper Mountain Astronomers club now has its own email hosting! What this means is that we now can use official club email addresses with our RMAstro.com domain. Most communications from the website will now come from "admin@rmastro.com" instead of RMAstronomers@gmail.com, so please watch for the change in your inbox and update your Junk filter if necessary.  Among the official addresses, we also have Webmaster@rmastro.com for website questions, Events@rmastro.com, Outreach@rmastro.com, Spectrum@rmastro.com, etc. Don't worry, we will still have our RMAstronomers@gmail.com address. Look for more information in the future, during our club meetings or Spectrum editions. 

  • February 06, 2022 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks to everyone for joining us at our Dark Sky site for our January Star party (even if it was a week late). It was beautiful for viewing the night sky and some of the club members spent time imaging various targets, while others looked through the club's telescope in the observatory, or discovered new targets through the telescopes they brought with them.

    If you have never joined us for a star party, please consider coming out to spend time with other club members. Each of us learn something new when we get together to view the stars in a clear, dark location!

  • January 28, 2022 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the end of the year I had the privilege to spend the afternoon with elementary students at one of our local schools in the upstate. The time I spent with them was awesome, and each of the students impressed me with their knowledge of the universe. I brought along my telescope for them to see as well as some images I have taken of galaxies and nebulae over the past year.  A student explained to me that an exploding star was a supernova, and wanted to know if that was happening to Betelgeuse. Incredible!

    One of the goals of the Roper Mountain Astronomers is to engage and help to educate our community. I can think of no better way to achieve this than through teaching kids about astronomy.

    The club regularly gets requests from the community about demonstrations and star gazing events. If you are a member of the club and are willing to help with these events, or if you are great at organization and planning and would like to help coordinate events, please reach out to me or one of the board members to express your willingness to volunteer!

    Clear Skies!

    David


  • January 03, 2022 10:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Now that Christmas has passed, it's a perfect time to check out our member classifieds in the Forums section. There are a few items there already. If you have anything that you'd like to list for sale, you can log into the website and create a new post, which will be seen by all website visitors. As a reminder, please update the post once the item has sold. 

  • January 03, 2022 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There is now a set of sample astrophotography data available for RMA members to practice with. After logging into our website, navigate to Resources > Tutorials where you will find a link to an RMA Google drive folder. Here, you'll find DSO, Lunar, and Planetary samples that you can download and practice your processing skills with. If you have questions about the data or techniques, please visit our Discord server, where our experienced members will be happy to lend a hand. 

  • November 29, 2021 7:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Comet Lenard (c/2021) was discovered only in January of this year.  It is visible in binoculars or small telescopes in the early morning hours around 4-5am.  It is currently visible between Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper.  It is moving rapidly through the sky so watch the YouTube link to see how it will move from day to day.

    https://youtu.be/rMiLUB-skEg

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