All posts by Rob

Down and Dirty Moon

I’d been waiting for about 3 weeks for the moon to be high in the sky again at a reasonable hour after dark. Tonight was the night! I really hadn’t planned to spend as much time out there as I did so I never bothered to set up the AutoStar or align my scope. I just plopped it on the patio and manually pointed it.

The 11.5 day old waxing gibbous moon was insanely bright and brilliantly crisp. I hope one day I am able to more accurately capture things the way I see them in the eyepiece. But instead, this is what I got tonight.

As I said, I hadn’t set up the AutoStar so I wasn’t tracking so the pictures were a little more blurred than they probably could have been. I will say that even the best of them does not even come close to being representative of how I saw it with the naked eye.

Partial Solar Eclipse

Last night I found hidden away in a remote region of, an article that mentioned a partial eclipse of the sun would be visible to much of North America… TODAY, beginning at 5:23 pm EST! It also mentioned that There wouldn’t be another one visible from within the United States until 2012.

That being the case I knew I had to trudge my gear out into the yard and not only have a look, but also try some more imaging as well with the Olympus D-460. Here are some of the better results of the event. As you’ll notice in these pictures (as with all my other D-460 images) that there is viginetting. At this time I am unable to find a way to get the CCD of the camera close enough to replicate what is seen by the naked eye through the lense. Although the adapter I have places the camera lense flush to the eyepiece… obviously the CCD is at least an inch further back. This results in the dark “cropping” effect. otherwise I would have resolved the entire disk in the images as it was clearly visible to my eye in the eyepiece. I’ll get it worked out somehow… even if I need to buy another still camera (which I’ve been thinking about anyway is the D-460 does not afford me much manual control over the camera at all).

There was a small sunspot group visible in to the naked eye in the southern hemisphere (south is up) but it washed out in the all the images except for P4080014, and P4080021. Even then they don’t look to impressive. Quite day on the sun I guess. 🙂

There are a few images here as well of the scope set up in the yard, as well as one of the tree AND clouds I was contending with in my backyard.

I took a few movies with the LPI on the 2X Barlow. We have the sunspots! This is a stack of 22 frames, contrast enhanced to bring out the sunspot group I noted in the southern hemisphere of the sun.

click to enlarge

First Planetary Imaging Success

Well, if you want to call it that. After a half dozen nights out in the dark trying to work out an imaging procedure (with the scope, an iBook and a number of different video cameras), I finally captured a decent movie of Jupiter last night.

This image is a stack of about 8 frames, post-processed in photoshop. It was taken with the Meade Lunar Planetary Imager (LPI)

click for larger

I can honestly tell you astrophotography is not a simple “point and shoot” exercise. I tried a Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000, an Apple iSight (with a hacked together homemade adapter, my Sony Camcorder (held to the eyepiece), an Olympus D-460 digitial still camera… and finally the LPI.

As with anything else I expect with practice (and more properly aligning my sight scope) it will get somewhat easier at any rate.

FUN stuff!

Dismal Failure with Jupiter

This evening I went out with the new Digi-T adapter I got for my Olympus D-460 digital still camera to try and my hand a Jupiter.

I found it extremely difficult to target thru the camera LCD as it was attached over the lense of the telescope. With a 2X Barlow on it was practically impossible. The motorized slewing of the scope seems sloppy at any speed and between 4X and 8X slewing speed it jumps from “too slow” to “too fast” IMHO. Also i’m going to chaulk some of the blame up to the fact that this was my first polar alignment with this scope and I was probably off a bit.

At any rate, the D-460 is pretty limited and without any manual control over the exposure time I pretty much got a whole lot of pictures of what appears to be an over-exposed, washed out star instead of the Jupiter I saw at the eyepiece.

So there’s nothing really to post as far as a reasonable image so I’m not going to bother. Suffice it to say though I did learn alot and I’m looking forward to next time.

I also expect my Meade Lunar Planetary Imager (LPI) to arrive any day now. It will be interesting to see if makes any difference.