Originally Posted by David Shapiro
The problem, of course is where to use those goodies. My system is (barely) portable, due to light pollution and all those damn trees. To have a real home observatory, I'd have to come up with a few million for a house on Lake Michigan. Won't happen til my stock hits.
I am considering combining my A/V hobby with astronomy.
I put a Wi-Fi card in my HTPC the last time I upgraded the hardware. A lot of the scopes these
days have computerized "GOTO" mounts, and accept CCD cameras on their eyepieces. You
can run the whole telescope and collect images with an attached laptop computer.http://www.meade.com/rcx400/index.htmlhttp://www.celestron.com/c2/category.php?CatID=9
Now if your laptop computer is Wi-Fi enabled; and you have a Wi-Fi card in your HTPC; then
you can sit in the comfort of your home theater and command the telescope in the backyard,
while viewing whatever the 'scope is looking at on the big screen in the theater.
I have the same problem with light pollution; especially given that I live only two blocks from
the site boundary of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The Lab is always lit up like a
Christmas tree. However, most of the lights are sodium-vapor, and I have to see if anyone
sells an optical "notch-filter" to filter out the sodium lines like the big observatories do; that
doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
A few years ago, the Lab had a telescope set up next to the AVLIS [ Atomic Vapor Laser
Isotope Separation ] facilities. The heart of the AVLIS process is a tunable laser.
High in the atmosphere is a layer of sodium atoms. If you tune a laser to excite the sodium
atoms; you can create your own small "guide star" anywhere you like at the top of the
The reason for doing this is so you can use adaptive optics to correct for atmospheric distortion.
If the adaptive optics has a bright enough source, it can correct for atmospheric distortion by
using a deformable mirror [ aluminum coated rubber ] whose shape can be altered in real time
by little hydraulic actuators controlled by a computer. The computer corrects the distortion of
the image of the laser generated guide star, and hence will also correct the image of whatever
astronomical object you want to study - the light rays of which are travelling parallel to those
of the guide star.http://www.llnl.gov/str/June02/Pennington.html
The first trial of this system was done using a backyard-type telescope at Livermore; and using
the AVLIS lasers:http://www.llnl.gov/urp/science/lgs_...uth_vault.html
After the success of this trial, a laser guide star system was installed on the 120-inch Shane
reflector at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, just east of San Jose:http://www.llnl.gov/urp/science/lgs_www/lgs_lick.html
The laser guide star system has also been setup on the world's largest telescopes, the
Keck II scope at Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii:http://www.keckobservatory.org/article.php?id=74
Now THAT's the type of telescope that I would like to hook up to my Home Theater!!!