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lukepower

IC4628 from Namibia

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Hi guys,

 

I have been busy at work in the last months, but still managed to pursue a very special project for me: I moved my big Cassegrain scope (20") from my home in Italy to a remote farm in Namibia at the beginning of June. I managed to setup everything in three days and nights, and since this beast is working basically every single night like a swiss clock  :)

Well, long story short, here is a quick elaboration of IC4628 which was sort of my first target. The nights are completely automated, thus I am imaging several different targets per night and ending at about 1GB of raw data per night.

IC4628.jpg

 

Again, this image has been only calibrated and stretched with Pixinsight. It's LRGB with about 2 hours of data per channel.

 

CS

 

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Hi George,

 

I have to dig for a few images. The system itself is my "old" Cassegrain I used to have here in the Dolomites:

  • 20" f/9 Cassegrain with ASA 4" reducer, bringing the focal length to about 3450mm
  • FLI Proline 16803 CCD
  • ASA DDM85 mount with absolute encoders
  • Baader LRGBHa7O3S2 filter set

The whole thing is connected to an industrial grade, fanless computer which runs Windows 10. A small ethernet switch and remote power switch complete the setup. I also have a small PTZ camera for checking the interior of the roll-off roof. I actually found some "features" (I'd call them bugs) in Autoslew which prevent it from parking the scope when starting from the wrong side, but luckily ACP handles it correctly anyway.

The internet connection is a 4M/1M WIMAX connection over about 130kms to Windhoek, Namibia. Surprisingly, it works pretty well. The frames of eery night are automatically being compressed with 7Zip PPM, which reduces the size to about 45% of the original, and then transferred to a Google Drive, from where they land on my HDD :)

 

Here some images I took while I was on site. Btw, the Farm is named "Hakos" and is close to the Gamsberg, which once used to be the planned spot for a big astronomical site for Europe before they moved to Chile...

 

20180530_081206.jpg

 

20180530_105223.jpg

 

20180530_105226.jpg

 

20180530_182625.jpg

 

20180531_074134.jpg

 

20180531_074134.jpg

 

20180601_081854.jpg

 

20180602_135032.jpg

 

20180602_134813.jpg

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Hi George,

 

they have built two blocks, each with seven roll-off roof "boxes" in it (sized approximately 3m x 3m each).

At the time I have been there, there was a smaller setup (my "neighbor") with a 110mm APO. I know of another group of astronomers who set up a system in the last month, so right now there are 3 systems installed. The farm offers very competitive pricing for the rental, but doesn't advertise it currently on any website or magazine - I found out by coincidence and by knowing the owners from a trip I've made there a few years ago.

The nice part is that the rent includes the motorized roll-off roof - the owner is a very knowledgeable electrician who set up everything, and it works smoothly both from a mechanical standpoint as well as from the driver side (ASCOM driver). Also, they have an AAG Weather Sensor whose data is available, and an all-sky sensor.

 

The only downside is the internet link, which is pretty stable, but a bit too slow should more telescopes come online. They are worink it out with Telecom Namibia, but it ain't easy...

 

And well, the weather and seeing of this place are simply awesome: I went down to 0.9" FWHM one night (!), and mostly running around 1.2" FWHM. We are talking of about 300 photometric nights per year (!!), so one can definitively gather truckloads of data over a year :)

 

Best regards

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Hi Lukas,

 

Very nice image!  Looking for a site was thinking of Teneriffa but Namibia sounds interesting, whats the rental cost? And how did you transport all you gear?

Cheers,

Christer

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Christer,

they are charging 2000 Euro a year, so it is pretty cheap.

I've made a big wooden case (weight 400kgs!) where I put everything into, and shipped it via air freight to Windhoek. It costed about 2000 Euro including VAT and taxes. The farm owner then picked it up and drove it to the farm (another ~300 bucks).

It was all surprisingly flawless, after 7 days it went all the way from here to the farm :)

 

Best regards

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Lukas,

Thaks for the info. I prefer som site close to the equator or just north of it like Teneriffa. Have you checked if they have some hosting there, Im looking into that now or rent some land and put my obs there but perhaps a bit to much work :)

 

Cheers,

//Christer

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