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SSP3-a

Ken Sikes
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Joined: 2013-01-27

I purchased a SSP3-a photometer from Optec late last march. The monsoons hit a bit early in the southwest (I live in Arizona (Dry state..yea right)  Any way is anyone one else from the old school around using Photoelectric photometry on the brighter stars (7th mag and brighter) or am I on my own.

Thanks for any answers or support.

Ken Sikes

SSP3
JimK
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Joined: 2013-02-19

I bought both an SSP3 and SSP4 new from Optec this March.  I am a new variable star observer but there is a small group of single channel photometrists still active.  Very accurate on bright stars.  I am mainly observing W Boo and could use some help in covering gaps as I have had a lot of cloudy weather in Vermont.

Jim Kay

SSP3, excellent photometer
DFR
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Joined: 2010-08-02

Hi Ken,

You're not alone. I have an SSP3 (version without motorized filter wheel) and did lots of PEP observations a couple of decades ago but have been dormant for the past few years (due to life and house complications, not lack of interest). I think that it's a great little instrument. I was using mine on my 10" reflector until the mount RA motor conked out a few years ago and I just decided this year that I can't find a replacement motor but to just retire the mount. So I configured my older 6" reflector for using the SSP3 and just started building it's own dedicated little observatory today, and hope to have it running with photoelectric observations again by this weekend (and then continue looking for a suitable mount for the 10" scope).

Anyway I think that it is a very capable instrument and am looking forward to PEP observations on the numerous stars available in the PEP program brighter than about mag 6 (in my scope and light-polluted skies).

Frank Dempsey

We have an SSP3 at our
uis01
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Joined: 2010-07-25

We have an SSP3 at our observatory.  Matt Templeton has encouraged us to continue because the PEPV fills a gap on the bright stars between the unaided eye visual and the digital reference frames.  Finding suitable comp stars can be challenging so I found this list very helpful:

 http://www.aavso.org/pep-starparm

The PEP program is still active
Matthew Templeton
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Hi Ken,

If you visit our Observing at a glance page look at the blue box on the right labeled "PEP Observers".  That will take you to our PEP program main page and all the details of the program.  We're always looking for new observers, and both HQ and the PEP chair Jim Fox are always willing to help.

New observers are encouraged to contact both Jim Fox and myself (matthewt@aavso.org) to help get you started.

Matthew

I bought a new SSP3 in 2009. 
GlennWGE
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Joined: 2010-09-20

I bought a new SSP3 in 2009.  I also have a Starlight-1.  I have not done much lately, both because I am busy and because I have been uncertain as to what would be good targets which aren't covered by something else doing 1000 observations a night with a CCD.  Also, my SSP is not taking power from the adapter, but will run on a battery.  I may simply run it with 9V into the battery terminals, though I am uncertain if it will be accurate.  I was very sorry to find out just yesterday that it is broken. 

 

PEP is fun, in my opinion, and my observations were generally within about .004 or better compared to other observers.  This is surely much more accurate than DSLR photometry and so forth.  GW

I also wish that I knew more
GlennWGE
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I also wish that I knew more things I could do with the other filters.  It seems the SSP has good response on the R and I bands, unlike PMT units.  I was never sure if it was possible or practical to use these filters, and what stars it might be good to use them on.  I do have the filters and wouldn't mind getting use of them.  Glen

R and I with SSP3
uis01
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Joined: 2010-07-25

I'd add a word of caution for R and I bands with the SSP3.  I have noticed that the raw output on these filters in particular needs to be color transformed to get it right.  Often B and V are pretty ready to go untransformed with good comps of the same color, but I've had more struggles with R-band in particular.  There is some very helpful info on the PEP program observes page to help figure out the transforms for your system.

http://www.aavso.org/content/aavso-photoelectric-photometry-pep-program

You are not alone Ken
gpersha
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Joined: 2013-05-05

I'm the inventor and onetime maker of the SSP line of photometers. I have sold my business some 5 years ago to Jeff Dickerman the new owner of Optec, Inc. Now that I'm retired, I can spend time with my first love - astronomy. 

I'm still working with Jeff in making the SSP better and I also been working on SSPDataq3 the software for data reduction that Optec sells. I have been active  in the AAVSO for only a few months and have been doing a number of bright variables: i boo, x her, g her, r lyr, u del, eu del, p cyg and, of course, nova del 2013. My observatory code is PGD if you want to check out my data with the light curve generator for these stars. One thing you will notice is that my data is a "little" smoother than other contributors. 

One of the advantages of the SSP3/5, is that it can get very good data on the bright variables where CCDs cannot.  Many of the unsolved variables are M class which are very bright in the R and I bands which is where the SSP-3 can do well.

I don't want to go on too long with this reply but I do want to make a couple of comments.

The BV and I "Johnson" filters transform well to the Johnson-Cousins system (UBVRcIc). However, the R filter sucks and does not transform well to Rc using the SSP-3. As you know, the AAVSO doesn't want Johnson R and I data. It so happens that Jeff had secured a batch of Sloan filters from Astrodon of g, r and i. I was able last night to do the transformation coefficient for the r filter for Cousins standard stars. It fits very well with a Tau value of 0.989. The plot of (V-R)-(v-r)o with V-R of 5 stars has a slope of -0.012 with and standard error of 0.010. The other nice thing about these filters is that they have much higher transmission compared to the colored glass types. The r that I used was about 0.7 magnitudes brighter than the Optec Johnson R. For those using the SSP-5, the Optec Johnson R filter transforms better to Rc and I have been using it with my SSP-5. The Optec Johnson I transforms reasonable well to Ic with an eta value of 0.888, slope of -0.125 and a standard error of 0.007 with 6 stars using a SSP-3a. 

I have made great strides with SSPDataq and it now controls the telescope - LX200 and Celestron protocol.  I have just added HJD (heliocentric Julian date) to the plot module and AAVSO output file. I will be working next on integrating Sloan filters into the program since it looks like this system will be the next "standard" for all to follow.  Using SSPDataq3, I can do 6 variable stars, 3 plots of an extinction star for the night, reduce the data and send it up to the AAVSO in about 2 - 3 hours. 

SSP3
tcalderw
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Joined: 2012-11-12

 

Ken...

I started using an SSP3 this summer and I like it.  I'm fortunate to have access to a 24" telescope at Pine Mountain Observatory in central Oregon.  Been looking at AC Her and AB Cyg.  Welcome to the PEP club - we need your help!

 

SSP -3
ZPA
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Joined: 2010-07-26

  I'm sure this is a commonly asked question, but does anyone know of a good source online for slightly used SSP3 photometers? I've been fascinated with this branch of variable star observing for years and would like to learn how to use them. Another question; what would be the dimmest magnitude stars that one could measure this way for a 10" reflector? Thanks in advance!

SSP3
tcalderw
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A used SSP3 popped up and disappeared twice on eBay over the past two months. 

SSPa
Ken Sikes
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Jim,

Thank you for your reply,I also want to do work on the brighter star that CCD or DSLR photometrist have diffuculty working on. A long range study on single stars rather than star harvesting is more appealing to me.

Ken Sikes

 

SSP3a
Ken Sikes
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Frank,

Many years ago (the late 70's) Richard Lines gave me an early prototype photometer with a 931A tube and a power supply to start me out on photometry. I was using (and still have the optics) a 10" set of Coulter optics f/16 optics. I now have a 10" F/10 SCT. I still have about 2 years before I can retire, hense the purchase of the SSP (while I can still be able to purchase it ).With the SSP3a and the great software from Gerald Persha new and exciting fields are open to me.

Ken Sikes

Dimmest Star for SSP-3 and 10-inch
FXJ
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Joined: 2010-09-30

I've been using the SSP-3 for about a decade on a 10-inch SCT. I find that, in dark skies, I can obtain reliable measurements to about magnitude 8 or 9 in either V or B bands. Reliability is about half a magnitude brighter in bright moonlight or city light pollution. In city observing, I found myself limited more by turbulant seeing than by scattered light.

You can do a lot with the SSP-3 on a 10-inch -- keep looking for one!

Jim

SSP3a
Ken Sikes
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Matthew,

I  have been to the Observing at a glance page many times and have followed each link. I am trying to learn as much as I can from every thing. The summer rains hit early and I have not been able to do much becasue of them. I had been working on determining the transformation coefficents. I had just completed that task when the bad weather set in. I wanted to have some information and results on hand before I asked to many questions.

Ken Sikes

SSP3a
Ken Sikes
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Paul,

I was doing the same thing,hoping a used SSP photometer for sale would show up some where. After three years only one showed up on Astromart. After doing much research reading reports where the SSP had been put to the test, the SSP always won out with very high and good remarks.

 

Ken Sikes

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484