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Supernova 2011fe (PTF11kly or PSN J14030581+5416254)

August 30th, 2011 No comments

I just got back from a dark-sky trip to Mahogany Flat Campground in Death Valley National Monument. I captured this image of the recently discovered supernova in Messier 101.

Messier101 Supernova 2011fe 20110829 0357UTC

Click the photo for the full resolution version.

The image was taken with an unmodified Canon 5D Mark II through a Celestron 80ED refractor mounted piggyback on a C8 on a CGEM mount.  I took 12 exposures each 5 minutes long for this shot.  I combined & processed them using Nebulosity.  I haven’t taken the time to get a magnitude from this photo, but comparing it to earlier photos, the supernova is definitely getting brighter very quickly.

Celestron Hand Controller Problems Fixed!

May 16th, 2010 1 comment

For several years, my Celestron telescope’s NexStar hand controller has been getting fussier & fussier.  On my last dark sky trip (many hours from home), the hand controller stopped responding.  I messed with it in the field for about 5 hours that night…cycling power, attempting realignments, etc.  Nothing worked.  The one time that night I got the scope’s computer to align, the hand controller stopped responding as soon as I sent it to my first target.

I spoke with Celestron about it and their best suggestion was to send back the entire mount so that they could work on it.  Their estimate to just look at it was $200.  They did tell me that the first thing they’d try was a new hand controller.  So, instead of sending in the telescope, I tried to order a new hand controller.  Except for places I didn’t want to order from, everyone was out of stock.  Months went by.  No hand controllers.

Fed up, I started digging around the internet again for a solution.  I found a post where several people had similar problems.  I tried their solution and it worked!  It looks like the LCD ribbon cable works loose in the Celestron hand controller.  I took apart the hand controller (just 6 screws), pulled back the two tiny black ribbon locks, then removed the LCD ribbon.  The contacts were dirty, so I used some non-residue electrical contact cleaner and a cotton swab to clean them up.

I put everything back together and the scope fired up and aligned without a hitch.  I’ll drag it out at night next weekend to give it a good checkout.  Hopefully, this 10 minute fix saved me $150.

You wouldn’t think that an LCD ribbon would mess up the mount’s ability to slew around & receive commands from my laptop.  Still, it looks like they might be related.

Here’s the original thread at Cloudy Nights.

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