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First Light at Great Shefford Observatory

26 May 2002

Having waited 8 months from ordering the telescope and camera (from different suppliers) they were finally delivered on the same day, 8th May 2002.

I then had over two weeks to set the equipment up before the next clear sky arrived on 26th May 2002.

As first light images I took a series of exposures of M51 with different exposure lengths which were then combined in Maxim/DL to create the final image below, with a total exposure of 190 seconds.

Note that this was taken at f/10 without focal reducer lens and so is at a larger scale than most of the rest of the images in the web site. Also note the image problems - guiding was bad because Periodic Error Correction (PEC) was not enabled on the mount at this time and focussing was also poor.

See the comparison image of M51 taken in January 2004 with a total exposure of 210 seconds, stacked with Astrometrica, at f/6.3 and with focussing automatically done using Focusmax.


This image taken at the start of astronomical twilight on 18th January 2004 has been log stretched to bring out detail in both the faint outer arms and the central cores of the pair of galaxies M51 and NGC 5195

First light for 16" telescope 27 June 2005

The original 12" telescope responsible for the first light image above was replaced with a 16" telescope in June 2005 and being the same time of year as the 12" was commissioned, the same galaxy M51 was used as a target for the first light image for the new telescope so a direct comparison could be made.

The first clear night after the 16" was installed was 27 June 2005 and the image below was obtained, made by combining a 20 second and a 30 second exposure taken unbinned at f/10 giving a scale of 0.7"per pixel.

Then on 30th June 2005 IAUC 8553 (subscription required) announced the discovery of supernova 2005cs in M51 on images taken 28 and 29th June by Wolfgang Kloehr from Schweinfurt, Germany. He also found a weak image from the previous night (27th June). Examining my first light image, the supernova was recorded well (see image below) and the position and brightness measured. These were communicated to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams by Guy Hurst and included on a follow-up circular IAUC 8555 on 1st July 2005.

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