For years, when observing, I found myself wanting a clock on my observing table when recording observations. I have used either a wrist watch or a cell phone, but looking at these was uncomfortable as these modern devices use bright backlit LCD displays, not a nice night-vision friendly red. The cell phone also has the additional problem of using up its battery quite quickly when out of range of a digital cell tower at some remote observing site. I needed a simple desk clock for my observing setup.
Accuracy was also a question, accurate time is always important when observing. Asteroid occultations, lunar and solar eclipses, iridium flares, twilight, jovian moon transits, the list of things where accurate time is useful is long in astronomy.
Of course being a electrical engineer makes designing and building a clock a fairly trivial exercise. But why stop there? Why not build in a few extra features…
- Use red 7-segment LED’s and build in some type of selectable dimming mechanism.
- Why bother setting the clock each time you set it up? Make the clock self setting and very accurate.
- Since the clock is accurate add a serial port to allow the clock to supply accurate time to a laptop when taking astrophotos.