Welcome to Atik’s Easter newsletter! In this edition you will find the second of our series of three articles about observatories that we have visited while attending trade shows and conferences: Rui reports on a visit to Mount Palomar which he made during a recent trip to California. There’s also news of the Atik 2012-2013 imaging competition, and a report from our newest member of staff, João Correia, on the first astronomy show he has attended, which just happened to be Astrofest 2013! STOP PRESS! Don’t miss the two important announcements on the last page!
A Visit to Palomar
During our trips to trade shows and conferences worldwide, we sometimes take a day off to rest before getting back to work – especially when faced with a 16+ hour flight home. That’s what happened during my last visit to OPT’s SCAE in California. While looking up what sightseeing targets were available in the southern Los Angeles area, something came up on the radar: the Palomar Observatory! Suddenly, all other options vanished, who knows why…
The Palomar observatory sits atop the Palomar mountain, which is about 80km (50 miles) from Oceanside, so it was an easy round-trip drive for the day. And what a drive it was! We don’t do a lot of mountain driving back in Lisbon, so you can only imagine how much fun it was going up and down the mountain – and behind the wheel of a Mustang, which made things…interesting.
Palomar has always been part of my imagination (and those of most amateur astronomers I believe), being the home of the famous 200″ Hale telescope. I’ve grown up reading about it, and thinking how spectacular it would be to observethrough such an instrument, especiallyimagining what Edwin Hubble experienced when he used it for first light, on January 26, 1949. NGC2261 would never look the same…
I arrived a little early, but people were already gathering for the tour, which would be guided by Mike Bertin. I had met Mike the day before, at SCAE. It was pure luck that he heard a conversation I was having with another gentleman, and introduced himself as being a volunteer tour guide at Palomar. Mike was fantastic, and I have to thank him not only for the tour, but also for the nice chat we had afterwards. Back to Palomar: there was a group of boy scouts and other people, some with young children, the big white building. Inside we were greeted by the majestic telescope, with its no less majestic horseshoe equatorial mount: 540 tons of telescope were in front of us! It was the biggest telescope I had ever seen, and the internal illumination of the dome made it look spectacular in all senses. I saw the William Herschel Telescope on the island of La Palma back in 2003 (which is “only”
165″), but its alt/az mount is much more compact so it was far less spectacular. The massive horseshoe of the Hale Telescope is something that has to be seen, and the fact that the Hale is f/3.3 (vs f/2.5 for the William Herschel) makes the whole structure incredibly impressive. Mike was very competent in explaining all the lesser known details to us, like the two massive gears hanging on the walls (never-used spares), the bar-codes on the dome, the little model telescope that you can move, and also the initial first test mirror for the new manufacturing technique. After a look atthe control room, we were given the chance to go out on the “catwalk”: not good for people who are afraid of heights, but absolutely amazing sights! Back downstairs, it was time for a good look at the beautiful surroundings and the visitor centre. A few souvenirs later and it was time to head back to base.
George Hale once said “Make no small plans. Dream no small dreams.” Palomar is his dream come true. This trip was my dream come true.
Oh, and by the way, do you know what the gigantic concrete disk in front of the observatory (see the picture above) is for? If not, well, go there and find out! 😉
The Atik 2012/2013 Imaging Competition
The Atik 2012/2013 Imaging Competition is moving into its penultimate stage before the prizes are awarded. All the entries are available for viewing on our competition page. Please do visit the site and have a browse through the pictures. We would be grateful if you would help to choose a winner by voting for those that you think deserve the greatest credit. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org listing your favourite entries, with a short reason for each one – eg “999, great detail and colour in stars”. You can vote for as many entries as you wish.
We will close the voting on 1st May and then count the votes. Within each section the picture receiving the most votes will be awarded the section win, and one section winner will be chosen by an expert panel to receive the grand prize of an Atik 11000.
This year Rui has combined the pictures into a slide show which can be viewed on our YouTube channel or via our competition page. Obviously we needed some suitable music for the video, and who better to ask than Jon Grove, the co-designer of the original Artemis cameras that became the Atik 16 and the Atik 16HR. So get yourself a coffee, press play, sit back and enjoy the show.
A snippet of software news: following a couple of requests, I have added the facility to add graphics markers to the Capture image display window in order to make it easier to match the alignment and rotation of images between different observing sessions. Click on the new icon on the toolbar to activate marker mode, in which the functions of the mouse buttons are different to normal – double-click on the display to insert a marker, double-click on a marker to remove it, click and drag a marker to move it around, right-click in order to invoke a context menu with additional options including those to save/load a set of markers to/from disk.
To install the new version of Capture, download and run the core software installer which is on our downloads page.
Once again, in the 13th year of this XXI century, professional and amateur astronomers gathered at Kensington Town Hall, London, for the annual European Astrofest convention. With conferences on a wide range of topics for the more savvy astronomers, the event also hosted a number of representatives of academic organizations who were spreading insightful knowledge about space and astronomy.
In the Atik display area there was a great deal of interest in the imaging competition pictures, with all their Matisse of natural and false colors. Also attracting a lot of attention was the wonderful clip of a recent BBC news item about Atik Cameras, starring Steve Chambers and Vince Bygrave – if you missed it or would like to see it again, it is available for viewing on YouTube. There was also a lot of interest not only in our existing range of cameras, but also in one or two products that are in development which we had on display, such as the 9MP 4-series camera for Hyperstar imaging.
One of the nice things about Astrofest is that it provides the opportunity for the British and Portuguese contingents of the Atik team to get together in person, something that we usually only do via Skype!
These are not up to the standard of the competition entries, but we end on a couple of explosive pictures from Steve using an Atik 460 and a C11 tube.
Steve is still looking up the difference between a planetary nebula and a supernova remnant. More information may be forthcoming next month.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the newsletter. If you wish to receive future copies by email please send a request to email@example.com.
Have an enjoyable Easter, and let’s hope for some clear skies as we move into Spring. On second thoughts, with the weather in the UK continuing to be as wintry as ever at the time of writing, let’s just hope for Spring!
With best wishes from all of us at Atik Cameras.
The new Atik on the block
Finally, it’s here. After being shown first hand to the attendees of the Atik stand at Astrofest in London last month, the Atik 490EX is now officially announced. A 9MP Sony EXView II sensor sits at the heart of this camera, making it the highest resolution Atik to date with a Sony sensor. Being binnable to different levels, the Atik 490EX is a highly flexible camera, which is useable with everything from short refractors to imaging reflectors, and Hyperstars to SCTs. The Atik 490EX will be available from the middle of April onwards at your favourite dealer.
We are very pleased to announce a summer promotion for the Atik 428EX and the Atik 460EX cameras. We know that spring is still in its infancy, but we like to think ahead! For a limited time, the Atik 428EX and Atik 460EX cameras will have a special discount for you to enjoy. With the good weather just around the corner, you can now have one of the most sensitive cameras available for a very competitive price. Check out your favourite dealer for info, and happy imaging!