Another low Jupe – steady as she goes…

Low shots are difficult – there’s usually a shimmer in the air at low levels, and astronomical images tend to be a little blurry. Every now and then, though, things come together nicely, and you get results like this:

Jupiter, Europa, and a very faint Callisto, 29 June 2007, 11.28 pm EDT

North is up. FLT-110, 5x Powermate, ToUCam II Pro. ‘best’ 277 of 564 images

Compared to the image taken a couple of days ago you might think I was using a different scope. It’s still the FLT-110 – but this time when I tried using the Powermate 5X the camera was able to capture a usable image – despite the glare of a full moon a few degrees away.

Lynkeos doesn’t give a direct report on the number of frames used, but I opened the .seq file which Lynkeos produces and was able to search the file and count the number of images with selected marked as true. I also moved the source files from the laptop to the desktop and had to modify a string in the .seq file to get Lynkeos to recognise the new location. I should consider writing a couple of macros to handle these tasks for me.

A low view of Jupiter

At my location Jupiter barely clears 24° above the horizon right now. My lower southern limit is somewhere around 23° or 23°, so there’s not much room to see the planet, and besides which I’m viewing through the murk of the Toronto air-mass. This is a much processed view through the 110 mm with a Toucam at prime focus.

Jupiter with satellites FLT-110 prime focus, ToUCam II Pro

Jupiter is too bright to show the planet and the Galilean satellites with the same processing across the frame, so I processed primarily for Jupiter, then highlighted the satellites individually to adjust levels enough to view them for positioning purposes.

I suspect the images are still slightly unfocused, and I am certainly not capturing the detail I could perceive visually. However, while viewing stars I was dismayed to find that without my glasses I could no longer focus at all with my left eye, and even with my right eye I had spikes and spurs around stars. With my glasses I am still compensating adequately, but it’s a worrisome sign of things to come as cataracts encroach on my sight. The telescope focusing issue is slightly different – the rack and pinion focuser on my FLT-110 is rather coarse and takes quite some care to adjust for best results. I think in these images I missed the best point — but until I get a more sensitive imager I’m not going to be able to use the focusing aids available on my Mac.

As an aside, Mac software for astronomy has been improving lately. We now have Nebulosity and PHD (plus a number of other goodies on Stark Labs’ site), Equinox, ScopeDriver, an updated version of Lynkeos, Keith Wiley’s image programs ImageStacker and AstroImager, and no doubt more. Things are looking up – and so should we!

Network notwork – again! [lotsa acronyms…]

Last week a thunderstorm rolled over the house, and we lost power for a half hour or so. Most of the computers in the house are on UPS’s and shut down properly, but for some reason I neglected to put the router and DSL modem on a UPS, so they simply cut out.

When the power came back up the network was only partially operational – the VPN connected to my office, but nothing on the office systems would talk to my home systems. After a good deal of running around wailing I happened to mention that I was getting a good ping back from one of the office servers, and mentioned the IP address. It wasn’t an IP address the support desk recognized, and a bit of sleuthing determined that the router was misdirecting the VPN connections. I reset the DSN within the router, restarted, and all was more or less well again.


This week another thunderstorm was due to roll over us, so I decided to pick up a UPS unit and put the router and modem onto it. This time the router handled the LAN beautifully, but couldn’t connect to the WAN at all. A quick test bypassing the router confirmed that the modem was fine, so I decided to pick up a new router, a D-Link DI624, to replace the old router, a Linksys WRT54G. I like the D-Link as it has more versatility with its internal firewall, but the DHCP implementation is a little shaky if the modem connection drops. In that circumstance the old links are slow to be replaced, so while the Linksys would reconnect in the background when a line error occurred, the D-Link would occasionally lock a computer out of the network. I solved that by assigning addresses based on Ethernet settings, and it seems to have resolved that issue.

The only remaining problem is that I changed some of the network addresses when I changed the router, and there are applications which expect the old addresses. I fix those as I notice them, but if you have trouble connecting to a service even though this site is up, an address conflict may be the explanation. I’ll get to it….