It’s not as easy as it looks

Ok. Where do I begin?

Over the past month I have been out a number of nights to try some different things. As I indicated previously I had yet to try out the AutoStar or do any actual imaging of the sky. Needless to say it took me three different nights of fiddling with the camera in the dark before I was able to obtain anything useful. In a word… theQuickCamsucks.

After a lot of frustration I finally turned my scope towards the moon. The first thing I noticed is that even as bright as the moon is, I still had trouble seeing it on the iBook screen. I had even more trouble trying to find the optimum focus as even simply handling the Flexi-Focus knob caused the scope to “shudder.” Well, to make a long story short I was finally able to obtain three decent images sequence stacks to process. I combined them in a neat little map of what I imaged plotted on the full moon.

Not to shabby eh? Well Ok I’m not operating the Hubble here but I think they came out pretty good for my first actual success.

Just this past Monday January 31, I took the scope out in the yard just after sunset in order to attempt to view Comet Machholz (C2004 02) to the North. As I was aligning the Autostar for some quick sight seeing I was looking through the finder scope at Rigel when a man-made satellite passed through my field of few (FOV) approximately 2° to the north. It was one of those really cool “unexpected accidents” that had me looking at the right place at exactly the right time. The total transit time across my FOV was approximately 19:07:40 to 19:07:53 EST (thirteen seconds).

After a little research I discovered this satellite was COSMOS 405 R/B passing overhead at about 821 km altitude. I couldn’t find a reference anywhere to the launch date but I presume it is a Russian (Soviet era?) bird. Using Starry Night Pro 5.0 software by Imaginova (, I recreated the scene as I saw it.

Anyway, the AutoStar works great and I’ll try to be more timely in my log updates as to not omit as much detail as I know I’ve done here.

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