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M99


M99

Here’s the first light image from my new CCD setup. This is the unbarred spiral galaxy Messier 99 located 50 million light years distant in the constellation Coma Berenices.

For the technical types: I upgraded my CCD to a STT-3200 with a self guiding filter wheel and adaptive optics (AO) unit. The main advantages of this setup are that the guide chip is placed in front of the filters and incorporates a first order refractive element mounted on two high speed stepper motors. It provides tip/tilt correction up to 10hz. On a good night its capable of increasing resolution by almost 30%. I’ve used it for four nights now and have seen improvements in resolution of up to 20%.

The pro’s are using much more extensive AO correction in which they produce an artificial star with a high powered laser and actually deform the primary mirror with 100’s/1000’s of actuators placed beneath the primary mirror. Needless to say this requires big $$$$ and a permit from the FAA. Both of which I’m unlikely to afford or convince the FAA I need! :-)