Astronomy

ETL-Astro: An Extract/Transform/Load Framework for Astronomical Catalogs

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Yesterday, I released ETL-Astro, a set of Python programs that generate astronomical catalogs in a variety of formats from license friendly data source, allowing for incorporation in GPL-licensed products.

The programs can do the following:

Comet Iwamoto C/2018 Y1 occulting two stars

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This is a time lapse video of Comet Iwamoto C/2018 Y1, on February 22nd 2019, racing against the background stars of the skies. Note that the comet occults two stars during this video. This is a composite of 51 exposures of 60 seconds each, at ISO 800. Taken using a Celestron C8 with a 0.6X reducer on a Vixen SXD mount running OnStep, and a Canon T4i DSLR.

Make Your Own $2 Artificial Star For Telescope Collimation

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An Artificial Star is a point source of light. It is used to simulate a real star indoors, so you can collimate your telescope's optics indoors and/or during daylight.

Commercial artificial stars, such as this Hubble Optics one, cost $25 or more, and their main feature is a small plate that has precision holes of 50 micron up to 250 microns.

You can make your own artificial star, which is very close in function to the commercial ones.

You can watch this short 4 minute video on how I did it, and read on for detailed instructions.

OnStep ESP32 Smart Hand Controller SHC

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A month ago, Dave Schwartz completed a design for a Smart Hand Controller (SHC) for the OnStep open source telescope controller.

After completing the hardware, I ported the firmware for it, from the Teensy 3.x to the lower cost ESP32.

Here is a video that I did demonstrating the features.

PCB

Here is an image of the SHC PCB, V1.03.

OnStep Telescope Controller STM32 PCB and ESP32 SHC Kits

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A while back, I completed a port of the open source OnStep Telescope Controller firmware to the STM32 Blue Pill ARM Cortex M3 32-bit MCU. Later, Dave Schwartz and myself designed a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that makes building a controller a far easier task than before.

Here is a video of the completed PCB.

OnStep Telescope Controller on Low Cost STM32

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Over the winter, I worked with Howard Dutton, the author of OnStep Telescope Controller, to make it work with the low cost STM32 ARM Cortex M3 microcontrollers. This involved writing a hardware abstraction layer (HAL), so adding different architectures in the future would not be too hard, as it was.

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