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Maksutov Cassegrain telescope design

I've been updating my telescopes and eyepieces in anticipation of some deep dark skies this summer.

This is my (new used) Meade LX200 7' Maksutov Cassegrain.


What makes this telescope a bit diferent is that it is excellent for viewing planets and double stars. The reason for that is that the Maksutov design uses a fixed secondary mirror which does not require collimation.

In astronomy, the "holy grail" of telescopes is the refractor, but there are several issues which make them difficult to mass produce in large aperatures. First and foremost, the larger the aperature in a refractor, the more the light is scattered based on its wavelength (thats a poor explanation, but its all I got right at the moment). For example, when viewing a bright object such as a planet or the moon in a large refractor, you will see purple colored halos... this is called chromatic abberation. In order to combat this, you need a much more complex and expensive design which compensates for this. These are called Apochromatic "APO" telescopes. A large APO telescope in the 4-5 inch range can cost from $1200 - $10,000 depending on quality, etc.

The Maksutov design does not have these issues being a reflector. Of course it has its own issues, but suffice it to say, you can get "near APO" quality for a fraction of the cost.

For reference: Collimation is the alignment of the optical system in a telescope. When a telescope's optics are not collimated, the images will be fuzzy and will not show much detail.

So - a link to some history on the design of the Maksutov telescope:


Grace Hopper and Debugging.

Have a look at this Picture:

That is a page from a log book kept by Grace Hopper while working on a Mark II Computer at Harvard University in 1947. It is the first officially recorded use of the term "Debugging"

Some research into Ms. Hopper shows that she was very instrumental in the devlopment of computer programming as we know it today. She wrote the first real complier, taking us from simple numeric operations on the computer to the ability to write structured programs. Her work on the language FLOW-MATIC evloved into what we know as COLBOL.

She was a Rear Admiral at the time of her death, and gave many lectures on computing... its truly a facinating study.

See her wikipedia page here:

And as always, a video is most appropriate. Here Ms. Hopper discusses the distance light traves in one nanosecond:


Some Pics with the new lens...

I picked up a CCTV 35mm lens for my NEX5n - this is a cool lens because it is very fast (f1.7) and it has a nice soft look around the edges of the frame, making it great for simulating old-time phtotgraphs.

Here are some pics I took today:





A little astronomy....

First up - Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day.  THis is from a couple of days ago - and its actually a video of the Northern Lights.  Very nice video:

Aurora 2012 from Christian Mülhauser on Vimeo.



Next, One of my favorites - This is a HiDef video compiled from actual photos taken when the Cassini mission passed through Saturn's rings.  

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation - Expanded, Improved from stephen v2 on Vimeo.



Robotic Quadcopter swarm

.. If you thought the sphere 'bot was cool... check this out...

Where was this when I was in engineering school...