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Groom Lake October 2013

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posted on Oct, 20 2013 @ 09:39 PM
reply to post by RammerJammer

I cannot get the images you posted. It is probably an online punk, hacker: but let's blame it on satellites as usual. On my epitaph I want someone to inspire that I was a satellite person. BTW, who stole my online name "Jeffersons Ghost"?

posted on Oct, 22 2013 @ 10:29 AM
reply to post by gariac

I wonder if they are running water to areas farther away from the main base complex, hence the need for a taller water tower seen in your picture to provide increased water pressure farther away from the tower.
Was the new building construction near the main base area or more isolated?

posted on Oct, 22 2013 @ 04:38 PM

reply to post by gariac

I wonder if they are running water to areas farther away from the main base complex, hence the need for a taller water tower seen in your picture to provide increased water pressure farther away from the tower.
Was the new building construction near the main base area or more isolated?

New construction is all over the base, but they have been building more at the south side in the last few years.

Generally the on site water storage is a function of the square footage of the complex, but with Groom Lake, who knows. If they needed more storage, there would be no reason to remove the old tower. But the fact that the new one lacks FAA markings makes me think the old tower was in the way. Either a hazard, or perhaps it was an issue with instrumentation.

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:45 AM
reply to post by gariac

True, it might have been in the way of some other facility function but I was more thinking that they needed to provide increased pressure.
From the photo it appears that the new tower is taller than the old one and the higher the water is stored the higher the water pressure is at the base of the tower. For every foot of height elevation you get 0.43 PSI. Taller the tower the less they would need to rely on pumping stations to get that water pressure to the outskirt of the facility.

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by Sammamishman

For me, the lack of FAA markings says it all.

Some people use the tower to focus the telescope when shooting the base. Of course, that is how you make a crappy panorama. The power poles are what you use to focus. All my images are probably focused to the same accuracy since the power lines can be seen, but sharpness varies due to the "seeing" conditions. When FosterVS asked me about the gear I use, I mentioned I use a refractor rather than reflector telescope. A reflector telescope has a hole in the middle for the secondary mirror. This makes the image less sharp. Photographing from Tikaboo will also be "poor seeing" conditions. In fact, photographing from space is easier since there is only 3 miles of atmosphere rather than 26 miles.

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 11:09 AM
reply to post by gariac

Definately I can see the use of a smaller APO as an advantage due to the lack of a central obstruction and the bulk of what can be packed. Although even smaller APO's can be several times heavier than a comparably sized reflector. If one was to be able to bring a fast reflector of large aperture I think the detriment of the central obstruction to image contrast would be negated by the larger aperture.
Atmospheric inequalities can also be compensated for by stacking video imagery taken from the eyepiece to yield a surprisingly clear image even through poor seeing conditions.
I currently own 3 scopes, all of which I built from the ground up minus the mirror grinding. My largest and highest contract scope,
I have built to reduce the central obstruction as much as possible given the F ratio of the scope and to prevent vignetting at the eyepiece. I have also owned some nice fluorite 80mm APO's and I do love them too for their "grab and go" qualities.
The equipment available to amateur astronomers now days is just awesome compared to days of yester-years and it isn’t too farfetched to imagine someone being able to pack a 12” portable dobsonian scope with webcam attachment up to Tikaboo.

edit on 23-10-2013 by Sammamishman because: (no reason given)

edit on 23-10-2013 by Sammamishman because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 02:45 PM
reply to post by Sammamishman

The poor seeing is actually a function of the aperture. There is a sweet spot between Dawe's limit and being too large. There are papers on this, but basically it has to do with the stability of the air over a region. The larger the aperture, the more likely the air will not be uniform over that region. I don't think a reflector will ever work as well as a refractor since for the same effective aperture, i.e. you subtract out the area of the center obstruction, the reflector has a larger physical size, i.e. it sees more air.

Reflectors are more prone to stray light problems. I suspect a refractor would benefit from a longer light hood given that a barlow is going to be used anyway.

I'm not ruling out even smaller refractors if they are good quality, Maybe the Tak FS60, which is still being made. Photography done over 26 miles is "thin", i.e. low dynamic range. You can get away with fast iso on a DSLR for this kind of photography since you will be ticking a small range of the pixel span.

I am 100% sure staking is worthless on long distance telephotography. It has some use in astronomy, but not for Tikaboo shots. The image always has thermal distortion. The amount varies with time of day, but it is always there. The individual images will have different distortions, and all stacking will do is create a blur where the images are not aligned. It isn't like I haven't tried this in real life since I have multiple images. Stacking is useful in astronomy if the exposure needs to be very long, if only to toss that frame where a plane flies by. The mount has error, and you can fix the image shift when you stack.

Stacking is good to reduce grain, but with a DSLR, grain is not an issue. When I shot Tonopah, I had cranked up the ISO to 2000 to compensate for the windy conditions and lack of sunlight. Sure that increases the noise in the lower levels, but when you expand the dynamic range, those bits fall off.

I make it a point to set exposure with "live view" turned on, and then check the histogram. I center the histogram, since that prevents pixels from being totally blown due to seeing something reflective. In post, the contrast is increased so all the bits are spanned.

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:50 PM
reply to post by gariac

Thanks for the great photos as well as informative and in depth info on terrestrial shooting at long ranges. If I get the chance to wonder down that way again I'll have to give it a try.
Have you ever looked through William Optics APO's? I actually prefer W.O. views over Taks. and they are a lot easier on the wallet as well.

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 11:24 PM
reply to post by Sammamishman

William stuff is mostly ED glass. That said, Trevor Paglen's shots were done off a ED80, but with a good barlow (one of the televue powermates I think).

The problem with William and most telescope vendors is your connection to the camera will be via a tube. Tak and Borg can be connected with everything threaded. This is so much nicer in the field, especially in less that idea operation conditions.

Since you have done some photography off a scope, you know that telescopes are designed a little short so to speak. That is, they assume you will have a prism or mirror diagonal on the back, which much be included in the optical path. For photography, the goal is to get the image onto the focal plane (i.e. camera sensor), so the extra path is just "air". For most scopes, that is a tube with screws to hold it tight. For Tak and Borg, that is a threaded tube. In a panorama, you do not want the image to twist as you pan, so having everything tight (threaded) is very useful. In addition, Bord has oversize T-rings and threaded tubes, which minimizes vignetting.

Borg makes threaded tubes that also fit Takahashi. My recollection is they say Tomy on them, which means Borg is reselling them, or who knows. In any event, everything is nice and snug. You can even insert 52mm threaded filters in the optical path. Ted at Hutech is the guru for hooking this stuff up.
Borg components

I have no first had knowledge of Borg telescopes, but they use a fluorite element, which is better than just ED glass. That Borg 71 might make a decent Tikaboo scope now that the Tak FS78 is no longer made. It is a bit short on focal length though. You would probably not be able to get a decent image with a Televue Powermate, but would have to go eyepeice projection or use a Baader flatfield, and I suspect you won't like the current price of the flatfield. If you went Borg, I'd check with Ted if you could use the Takahashi TCA-4. It is really tight. The one thing I haven't tried is the Takahashi eyepiece designed for projection. I have used University Optics orthoscopics for projection. OK, but not as good as a powermate.

You can buy/trade all these little optical accessories on Astromart. It is like ebay, but only for astronomy. I think they charge to join now, but the fee keeps the riffraff out.

One experiment you could try is to use a good camera 2x telecoverter plus those extenders used for macrophotography on the back of the teleconverter. To some degree, you can add more space at the back of the barlow to get additional magnification. Nikon has a bit of an edge on teleconverters, albeit at a premium price. Nikon 301 teleconverters are constantly on ebay, and they are very good. I shoot Canon EOS, but I think for a telescope, you could make one work with adapters.

posted on Oct, 24 2013 @ 12:12 AM
One thing you can do when evaluating various telescope setups is to photograph money. Preferably a nice crisp bill. I don't post photographs of money (AKA snicker snicker the money shot) because the feds take a dim view of copies of money, though you can reproduce parts of money without getting in trouble. It is too much work to figure out the rules. But my point is paper bills have very fine printing on them, so they make good test targets. I usually shoot in my garage, which is long enough (20ft to 25ft I guess), but sometimes I have set up money on a utility pole in the park, so I can really exercise the setup at a few hundred feet. [Reading the serial number off a bill over the distance of a football field is trivial.]

One thing that may not be obvious, but when you shoot through a telescope with significant magnification from barlows or eyepiece projection, the amount of light coming down the pipe is much less than the camera manufacturer expected for metering. That is, when you use a camera lens set for say f16 (small aperture, the camera is computing the exposure with the lens at full open, say f2.8. Obviously the camera compensates for the actual F stop. But with a telescope, you are presenting the dim image to the camera, and in the daytime, the light leak from the viewfinder might be more than what is coming off the lens. So on a DSLR with "live view", you set the exposure that way. On a camera without live view, you need to flip the shutter on the back of the viewfinder (if you have one), or just cover it to set the exposure. Some cameras won't even meter correctly with a telescope, i.e. they expect a lens with full electrical connections.

posted on Oct, 24 2013 @ 05:07 AM
reply to post by gariac

Awesome info, thanks! Most of my experience is old school film astrophotography with the mounts moving little if at all during the course of the night so the heavy duty crayford focusers that some scopes come with now days are suitable for that. Eliminating the slide tube and going with a threaded mounting options I can see as a huge advantage for set-up and maintaining optimal focus all the time.
The W.O. scope I had was one of the few fluorite doublets that William made for a short time. I actually got to visit with him at his front office in Taiwan and bought some gear from him while I was there at half the retail price, neat experience I must say.
I have dealt with the owner of Astromart several times and know his son's family as well as former employees of his Anacortes (turn gun store) shop here in WA. I used to do a lot of business on Astromart but my dealings with the owner weren't favorable as well as the stories I get from those I know that spent time around him, hence I no longer go there. I use Cloudynights for astro. classifieds now and it has worked out for me.
Trying to use a dollar bill to focus on sounds fun, I'll have to give that a try. I am lucky enough to have access on family owned land here in WA that has 100+ mile un-obstructed (when the weather cooperates) view of the East side of the Cascade mt. range and Yakima valley below to try to fine tune skills for long distance shots.

posted on Oct, 24 2013 @ 10:02 AM
reply to post by Sammamishman

Well if those mounts didn't move, you were getting star trails. ;- That was my point about the stacking. You could align the images due to errors in the tracking, so stacking is useful in astrophotography. In terrestrial photography, I just don't see the need for it. [Stacking has some use in long exposure photography. You can in theory reduce the sensor hot spots, though I have found once you stack the images, they show up.]

Having access to some land for long distance is useful, but you need a suitable target based on the distance. Resolution is really a game of arc seconds. Unless you throw silly money at this game, your telescope is going to be around 1 arcsecond resolution. So the more distance you use, the larger the detail on the test target if you expect to find the limit. Money has fine lines, so you don't have to be so far away to see what you can resolve.

The wiki on optical resolution is decent. Note the section on poor seeing:

Systems looking through long atmospheric paths may be limited by turbulence. A key measure of the quality of atmospheric turbulence is the seeing diameter, also known as Fried's seeing diameter. A path which is temporally coherent is known as an isoplanatic patch. Large apertures may suffer from aperture averaging, the result of several paths being integrated into one image

optical resolution

It is a bit of an internet search, but the Tonopah Test Range has published a document or two on long distance photography. Remember that is their specialty, as is the same skill set is found at Edwards. They can photograph moving objects at great distances. One of the interesting discoveries they made is nearly all the electronic secret sauce that has been invented for improving long distance photography can be equaled by simply raising the height of the camera, something pretty simple to do if you are on a military base with all sorts of construction people handy. This same trick can be applied to "our" long distance photography by finding a location where the ground fall off rapidly. That way you avoid looking through the turbulent air at ground level except right at the target.

If you don't need to touch the camera much, you can get away with the optical tube using thumb screws. Obviously you need to use a remote release. [I haven't mentioned that, since this thread isn't meant to be a complete discussion on the technique of this photography.] But if you could run the camera controls remotely, one thumb screen interface would be suitable. Canon has the ability to control their cameras via USB. I assume Nikon can as well. I suppose if you had a tablet and suitable software, you could do the whole panoramic session without touching the camera. You pan the image with the gear head.

You are going to find that once you get sufficient magnification in the setup, that fine resolution Crayford focuser won't be all that handy. The very fact that you are touching the scope to focus it will make achieving optimal focus difficult. I would motorize my focus if I could do it in a manner that didn't interfere with the portability. That is, it is hard to transport a telescope in a backpack with a huge motor hanging off the side.

Note that if everything is threaded, you will need a Takahashi style camera angle adjustor, or you will have to rotate the the entire optical tube assembly in the rings.
Camera angle adjuster

posted on Oct, 24 2013 @ 03:54 PM
reply to post by gariac

Oh, I wish I had silly money right about now. talking hardware and gagets get me going.

I have done some intentional star trails, some un-intentional. I was actually referring to moving the mount to fine tune polar alignment after realizing the mount had been bumped or a thumb screw had slipped during the happens. But this of course has no bearing on terrestrial shooting.
Thanks again for the equipment talk side track and I apologize if the thread got a little off topic but info like this from someone with experience is in-valuable reading.

posted on Oct, 25 2013 @ 02:04 AM
Note the cheap way to get more magnification is just to use a telescope and two 2x teleconverters. You do have to make sure the teleconverters can be coupled to each other. You could even do that with a camera lens rather than a telescope. The results won't be great, but it seems nobody is shooting the base but me, so any imagery is better than no imagery. With Chuck Clark gone from Rachel, there are no residents that do any investigations of the NTTR.

posted on Oct, 25 2013 @ 02:23 AM
Here are two more photos. I generally don't bother to photograph these areas since they don't turn out well, but here goes nothing. First up is the Papoose Mountain facility.
Papoose Mountain facility
I've heard they observe the IR signature of test aircraft from this location, but I can't verify that. You can see it from your favorite satellite imagery website at N37 12 20.44 W115 50 24.38

Papoose Mountain can be seen from other locations, notably from the tourist spots like the ET Highway, the Power Line Overlook, etc. It might have an auxiliary radio site for Groom Tower since on occasion you can hear the signal "go turbo" (get really strong). Of course, that could also be from a site on Bald Mountain. They don't use the alternate site often enough to make a determination to its location.

Next up is what is believed to be UAV control towers.
UAV contgrol towers
Coordinates N37 17 41.14 W115 49 21.40 .

posted on Oct, 25 2013 @ 12:58 PM
You can see the new construction at the old 32L run-up pad in this DigitalGlobe sat pic at getty images. Looks like a new ramp to me.

DigitalGlobe Sat Image

posted on Oct, 26 2013 @ 04:05 AM
Off topic, yes but just thought I'd toss this one out there. I ended up answering this question. The RQ-170 has been photographed at Creech at least once. I missed this one, figured I'd put it out there for others who may have missed it as well.

RQ-170 Breaks Cover in the US

Close up


That's all I have found.

reply to post by DesertWatchdog

The RQ-170s have been heard launched from Creech via a scanner. I don't know if anyone photographed one at Creech. All I saw were Predators and Reapers.

It sure would be nice to see the triangle tower turn live. The speed would be indicative of the function. That is, does it rotate as a plane goes by? I have a hard time imagining it turning quickly.

posted on Oct, 27 2013 @ 03:01 PM
All the panoramas are now available in jpg format. They are done at 95 level quality. The png files will eventually be deleted, so if you want lossless compression, get them sooner than later. The jpg files are fine given the quality of the source material.

Do a "save as" since most browsers will not handle anything but the small jpg. Use Irfanview to view the image on windows. Use the GIMP on Linux. You are own your own on the mac.

Groom Lake oct 2013 large jpg

Groom Lake oct 2013 medium jpg

Groom Lake oct 2013 small jpg

Note I'm going to add another panorama shot the same day eventually.
edit on 27-10-2013 by gariac because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2013 @ 03:49 PM

Wow, whoever says that "Area 51 has relocated or is now an inactive base" clearly has no idea what the hell they're talking about...

There is TONS of new construction going on!!! may just be an "extension" of 29 we have soooo many troops coming back and need a larger base out there...29 palms is only a few clicks away from Groom Lake.

posted on Oct, 27 2013 @ 04:06 PM

Here's a pic that we took leaving on the Groom Lake road, near the Mailbox cutoff road, not sure what it was but it was fast!

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