Gene's Low Country Observatory
Welcome! My name is Gene Ducote and I live in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is located on the southeastern coastal plain of the USA. We have a subtropical climate: average annual rainfall is 40", wintertime average temperature is 48dF and the summertime average is 80dF. Extremes in temperature have been recorded at 111dF in September and -13dF in January. We really appreciate the cold fronts our Canadian neighbors occasionally send our way. At those special times, the seeing and transparency are excellent--CCD imaging is a joy at those magical times. Of course, urban light pollution is ever increasing which makes the introduction of CCD imaging a godsend in terms of "seeing" some DSOs(DeepSpaceObjects).
My equipment is simple---I have a Meade 8" f/10 LX200, a Meade f/6.3 Focal Reducer which I have used often; a newly acquired (Feb 1999) Optec MAXfield f/3.3 Focal Reducer (still have to work-out the critical 29.7mm spacing between the rear-lens and the CCD chip); a SBIG ST-7 NonABG CCD camera (which is now returned but unchecked as of this date for the new enhanced-chip and water cooling retrofit), along with the AO-7 Adaptive Optics unit---most of which are mounted on a slightly beefed-up Meade standard wedge which is mounted on the Meade standard field tripod. This configuration sits on a set-of-three vibration suppressor pads (Orion Binocular & Telescope Center) which seems to me to be adequate for my knowledge-skills, location and present needs. The equipment package sits on my backyard 12'X22' concrete patio and is protected from the elements by a homebuilt roll-off shed/observatory. A motion-detector security system provides some assurance to trespassers that their presence is duly noted. It works really well as a neighbor's meandering cat and a little squirrel using our security fence as a roadway set it off one early morning.
Control is accomplished from my glass-enclosed air-conditioned back porch and this makes for some enjoyable imaging sessions. Wire-runs are 25' which are tolerated well by the equipment: the telescope, the CCD camera; two computers (to operate and process the images) and a small color TV set to watch our favorite programs while we're imaging (remember this is a light-polluted area so the extra light doesn't really matter that much). The computers are comfortable and so are we---what more could one ask?
Here are some images we (I and my bride-of-43-years---Rebecca) took from this urban location--(Please note Rebecca decided to personally check-out The Greater Sky, departing April 25, 1999)--some are good and some are fair and some are (ummm, well!) and some are improperly exposed/processed and most of this vintage were not flat-fielded for which I plan to redo at some future date...CCD imaging has a long, drawn-out learning curve...very steep here in Charleston as I have no one handy with whom to consult (this "ain't" an astronomy town)---so much for the excuses, 'On with the show'.
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