We have successfully procured a copy of IDL as well as proper licensing. I am now in the process of reading the manual so that I can actually use it. In other news, we are still trying to get a new IOTA box, which we have discovered amplifies the pre-existing, yet negligible moving band of interference into the hulking behemoth it appears as in the RECON videos we produce. When we run the camera directly into the computer, the interference is barely noticeable. Ian is shortening the legs of the telescope tripod because he is too short to reach the eyepiece with his face at the current height.

2018-12-13 Supplemental: Missing PCB Components

Here are the components we are missing:

1x DHT22 Temperature and Humidity Sensor
1x DC/DC Voltage Regulator, 5V 1A
1x DC/DC Voltage Regulator, 9V 1A
2x 10µF ±10% 50V Ceramic Capacitor X7S Radial
2x 33µH Unshielded Wirewound Inductor 1.9A 220 mOhm Max Axial
2x 22µF ±20% 16V Ceramic Capacitor X7R Radial
1x TVS Zener Diode 12V 17.1V 1.5KE
1x Green 527nm LED Indication – Discrete 3.4V Radial
6x 2 (1 x 2) Position Shunt Connector Black Open Top 0.100″ (2.54mm) Gold
1x 3 DS18B20 Temperature Sensors


We have recieved most of the parts for the PCBs for the camera and controller boxes, and discovered that we may be lacking some parts necessary for the controller box. In other news, Cal Poly was able to extract useable data from our video recorded on the December 1 RECON event, and observed the occultation. They are also in the process of possibly replacing some parts that may reduce or eliminate our scanning interference pattern on the Mallincam, as well as getting us access to their IDL software so that we can better analyze our footage ourselves. I had some success doing dark frame subtraction in Adobe After Effects, but it did little to nothing, especially for the scaning interference.


Jeremy, and Ian, and I finished waterproofing the tripod.


Jeremy and I created new cardboard models for the weatherproofing, since the original ones were lacking coverage in some areas, and did not allow full mobility of the mount.

2018-09-20 Supplemental

Update: We succeeded in the aforementioned task.


Looking into creating a Gantt chart in Excel for the PANOPTES progress. Jeremy found a template online. We need to figure out how to get rid of the annoying logo at the top. Jeremy thinks that we can get it done within the hour. We also have a number of white papers to be written.
White papers:
1. Exoplanet history
2. Discovery methods
3. Transit method
4. Orbital period
5. Goldilocks zone
6. Who are the main exoplanet researchers?
8. History/collaborators of PANOPTES


0. Get 3’x1’x.01″ thick aluminum sheet
0.5 Get big plastic tubing for swivel region protection
0.75 Get NUC
1. Waterproof everything
2. Edit Poster
3. Preliminary write-ups for PANOPTES paper.


The following picture are the measurements for the telescope mount. They will be used to create a permanent pier for the camera box and mount.


Completed hardware assembly, only electronics need configuration.


The data from the experiment was collected and the distance to the moon was calculated to be 342,000 km. This value only had 4.96% error. The research paper is mostly completed, and a poster will be presented at the upcoming poster session.


I have figured out what I think is the math to approximately calculate the distance of the moon based on angular size. We are planning on using Joe’s smaller telescope in order to obtain a full view of the moon.


In order to take a useful measurement to calculate the distance of the moon, the field of view of the image must be known. The telescope may have too narrow a field of view, preventing the entire moon from being observed at once. As a result, we may need to use a camera without the telescope to measure the angular diameter of the moon.


With repaired connection, the telescope can now connect to the laptop. On the 31st of January, there will be a super moon and a lunar eclipse, which coincidentally fall on the second full moon in the month of January. It would make sense to have some sort of event involving the telescope on that night, since there are multiple events of interest occurring simultaneously. The possibility and logistics will be discussed at the next meeting. During the normal lunar cycle, the apparent shadow on the “dark side” of the moon is actually caused by he moon itself. The dark side of the moon is the side pointing away from the sun, thus full moons occur when the sun is more or less on the exact opposite side of the sky as the moon, and new moons when the sun and moon are on approximately the same side. During an eclipse, the earth moves between the sun and moon, casting its own shadow on the moon, meaning that the sun and moon must be on opposite sides of the sky, and thus lunar eclipses can only occur during a full moon. Because the lunar orbit is inclined at an angle of 5.14º from the ecliptic plane, full moons do not usually come with eclipses, as the moon is either above or below the sun. When eclipses do occur, they are rarely total, as the likelihood of the moon being perfectly centered on the ecliptic plane when the earth passes between it and the sun is quite small. By the way, the ecliptic plane is the plane on which the earth orbits the sun. Super moons occur when the moon is at its orbital perigee to the earth. Since the moon’s orbit is an ellipse, there are two points in its orbit where it is the closest to the earth (perigee), and two points at which it is the farthest from the earth (apogee). At perigee, the moon appears almost 14% larger from earth as it does at orbital apogee. By factoring in the accepted diameter of the moon with its perceived angular diameter, its distance from earth can be calculated to a respectable degree of accuracy.


The long-term solution to the connectivity issue between the laptop and the telescope was solved by removing the RJ-11 male connector from the end of the cable that connects to the RJ to serial converter, and rewiring it by switching the positions of the wires, then connecting a new male connector head. The re wire was removed from the head, then the green one was moved to its place, and the yellow wire took the previous position of the green. In addition, the temporary blue apparatus previously used to rearrange the wiring was rendered useless by the more compact solution, so a smaller and less messy connecter was added between the RJ to serial converter and the modified serial cable.


So it turns out the connection between the red cable of the serial and the green of the RJ jack was severed, so after finding out signal was not getting through the cable using AccessPort, I had to reconnect the cables, which involved stripping back the sheathing and insulation further.


There is an upcoming RECON event this Saturday night, the 18th. The object is a main belt asteroid which is going to occult a magnitude 10.1 star at approximately 11:50 pm.


Yesterday, the Board finally approved the new WISRD logo, developed by Aidan with some assistance from myself. Additionally, the t-shirts have been ordered.

2017-09-14 Supplemental

A time lapse of the eclipse created by capturing an image every two minutes with a Canon Rebel T6s by Aidan.


After encountering issues with the Startech RCA adapter, the video input head had to be disassembled and rewired because of deterioration of the original wiring. VirtualDub was downloaded onto the RECON laptop, along with a driver for the Startech adapter. In order to achieve a video signal form the IOTA box, the ground of the video input had to be grounded to the ground of one of the audio inputs. After a signal was successfully acquired, the video in VirtualDub still appeared overlaid over itself multiple times, resulting in an unintelligible image. This problem was finally remedied when it was discovered that the video had to be in the “preview” setting, rather than “overlay”.


We are now investigating the possibility of having a box constructed which would allow the telescope to remain set up and be wheeled around without the need to dismantle it. There are no known RECON events coming up for the next few months.

The innovation of WISRD extends beyond the confines of traditional science

A WISRD member explores alternative innovative methods of chair use


In a practice session last night, we were able to successfully use the laptop to locate celestial objects with the telescope, albeit with some alignment errors. We observed Jupiter and three of its moons, as well as locating the star field for the RECON event that is to take place on the night of the 13th. I used a DSLR to procure photographic images of Earth’s moon, as well as of Jupiter and its satellites. Since the field of view of the DSLR through the telescope was too narrow to capture the moon in its entirety, various images were merged to create a panorama of the whole moon. The images were retouched in order to more clearly show their subjects, although the subjects were fairly sharp and contrasted when viewed through the eyepiece of the telescope. The images were taken using a Nikon D3200 at ISO 200, and an exposure of 1/160th of a second, using a 3D printed adapter from the Thingiverse found here. I used Adobe Lightroom to retouch the photos and stitch together the panorama of the moon.


Observe the Jupiter in its natural habitat.


A large orb of white rock and dust mysteriously circumnavigates the earth repeatedly at an altitude of 238,900 miles.


Yesterday, we finally got the telescope to hook up to the computer. After much confusion due to the inconsistent coloring of wires, i figured out the right connections to make, and was able to control the telescope from TheSkyX. It turned out that the telescope RS232 port required a different pinout, probably so that company would make money off of us buying their special adapter, but we just dissected a few phone cables and made our own.


After further inquiring, the Meade people claim that we need to use their USB to serial converter, so we have ordered it, and will resume trying to connect to the telescope pending its arrival (hopefully later this week or next week). In other news I am doing some work in editing articles for the popular science magazine, which certainly has proven a brave and trying endeavor thus far.


Due to complications involving QBasic, I ditched the idea, and instead attempted to get a readout directly from TheSkyX, but the results were negative. After running a test involving the serial to USB adapter connected to the RJ to serial adapter, only one of the USB contacts made any connection to any of the RJ pinouts. This is not good, and we have to find out if a different adapter is needed, or if we need to rethink the telescope to laptop link entirely.


In order to assess the connection between the laptop and the telescope, we are trying to run a basic program to control the telescope, then connecting the serial cable to an oscilloscope to get the readout. We are using a basic program copied from the LX200 manual. Unfortunately, I have to fix the code, since it copied messily. After it works, we will use PASCO Capstone software to read the output to see if the signal is properly transmitted.


We finally got the telescope hooked up to the computer, but the telescope is unresponsive to the computer so we are looking into the problem.


There is a RECON event coming up on the 17th of this month,and a practice will be held the Friday before, not he 10th, after the SMAAC meeting. We also now have cables to connect the telescope to the laptop, and it will be tested at the practice.


I finally got a light curve from the January observation using LiMovie on the new laptop, but at first glance, it doesn’t look like we observed an occultation. There is an issue of static bars progressively scanning down the feed from the camera, which causes some interference and needs to be sorted.


We received the RECON laptop. The telescope is a Meade LX200 12″, and can be connected to our laptop using RS-232 protocol. For this we need an RJ[something] connector to connect to the telescope, and a USB head for the computer. TheSkyX Professional is now being downloaded onto the laptop. We also need to download the cwrsync tool.


We have ordered a laptop for RECON use, and a serial to USB adapter, so that the telescope can be connected to said laptop, allowing us to control it.


Unfortunately, the next two RECON events will not be within our grasp due to weather and the low declination of the events. The events are on the night of the 6th and of the 23rd. It would be convenient to get permission from the Westside Towers to use their roof to set up our telescope, but considering the tense history between Wildwood and the Towers, it is highly unlikely. Currently the Tower is the one major obstacle in viewing from Wildwood.


We downloaded TheSkyX Professional edition from Bisque software, which will allow us to control the telescope remotely as well as doing our own dark field subtraction to more accurately analyze our own data.


The weather conditions on the 11th did not permit us to even align the scope, so the observation could not be completed, and was called off.


There will be a RECON viewing event on Saturday night at 12:55 AM at Wildwood. On the Friday night before, there will be a practice session at 9 pm to try to acquire the star field.


As of today, Wildwood has at least partly participated in a total of 10 viewings in coordination with RECON.


We finally installed Lagarith on the desktop, and the files could be read.


We were unable to open the AVI file from our RECON recordings, because we need to install Lagarith lossless codec on the WISRD desktops so that the files can be read, so we can analyze them on LiMovie.


The observation ont he 23rd had to be cancelled due to weather conditions, including cloudiness that obstructed view of the star.

Supplemental (2016-10-10)

Side note: the next RECON event is up on the viewings page. In case you are too lazy to go to the page right now, the viewing is just after 11 pm Pacific Time on the 23rd of October in Topanga.



Today eight students from WISRD, namely Reid, Stella, Lucy, Maddie, Lela, Molly, Aidan, and myself, went to the California STEM Symposium in Anaheim. It was an opportunity to advertise the community involved work that WISRD has been doing. There were also several other schools there displaying their programs.

Supplemental (2016-09-15)

Here is the video of the first cloud chamber we were able to get working properly:

The small trails of mist that appear rapidly, then seem to drift apart, are the trails caused by the ionizing radiation that passes through the alcohol vapor. By looking at the trails, we may distinguish the particles that leave them: the shorter, thicker trails are left by alpha particles, while the longer and straighter trails are left by beta particles. The colorful item is the mantle from a gas lantern. Gas mantles contain some radioactive elements such as 228Th (thorium), and traces of others such as 220Rn (radon), 224Ra (radium), and 228Ac (actinium).


We were finally able to succeed in getting the cloud chamber to work on a small scale. The key was that our lighting was probably off last time, because the lighting requirements to see the trails were very specific. However, after manipulating the lighting, we were able to produce video clearly showing the trails. In the next attempt, glass will be used as a top, to reduce the number of scratches and increase the clarity of view. Additionally, I will experiment with different colors of light, such as violet, in order to determine which yields the best results.


Today we tried the cloud chamber, using isopropyl alcohol, but it was not a success. That is either due to the temperature in the chamber itself, or to some other unknown variable. We were unable to even get the small kit cloud chamber to work. Perhaps it was the type of alcohol, of that our light wasn’t bright enough, but I need to look into all of the variables that effect the operation of a cloud chamber, in order to make an improved attempt.

Supplemental (2016-09-12)

The idea of a cloud chamber is that a greatest amount possible of alcohol such as isopropyl is evaporated in a closed container, so that the the air is supersaturated with alcohol, meaning that no more alcohol may possibly be evaporated, then cooled to a critical temperature just at the point where it condenses so that when charged particles of radiation pass through the vapor, they ionize it, causing pockets of condensation to spread from the points where they interact with the isopropyl molecules, leaving trails of condensation in the shape of the path that the particles take through the enclosure. Each trail seen in the below video is the result of an alpha particle (nucleus of a helium atom) emitted by the radioactive gas radon. When a charged particle such as an alpha or beta (electron) particle interacts with a molecule of the alcohol vapor, it causes an uneven distribution of the usually neutral charges residing in the molecule, and the resulting ionized molecule acts as a nucleus for condensation, causing surrounding molecules to change state from gas to liquid as well. The particle that made the trail can be identified by characteristics of the trail, such as length, thickness, straightness, etc.


Today, we had no dry ice due to a complication involving Joe’s Harley, but We decided that I will bring in the fish tank from my house as the container for the cloud chamber. It would also be a good idea to display the functional apparatus on WISRD Wednesday. The result that we hope for should look something like this:

Credit: herberd, https://youtu.be/VFVZU2YwwJ4

The difference is that ours will likely not contain so many trails, unless we use a greater radiation source than we have in the past.

Week of 2016-09-04

This week I became involved with a cosmic ray experiment, specifically, in the effort to build a cloud chamber.  The kit is ready to go, but we still need dry ice to get the experiment going.  Hopefully we’ll have that by next week.  The kit that we have now is pretty small, and it might be a good idea to scale up based on initial success.  I am also interested in finding a way to optimize the effectiveness of a larger cloud chamber, by expanding, or deepening the layer of alcohol vapor which is at the critical temperature for particle trails, so that trails may be visible in more of the chamber.

2016/2017 Learning Outcomes

This year, my objective in WISRD is to expand my experience in a range of fields.  I am looking forward to trying some of the certificates.  I will also be involved mainly in the RECON astronomy program, in which I began last year, and possibly with the cosmic ray experimentation.