A week or two ago, my wife’s grandfather (D) asked me about an object he had seen in the sky that had been unusually bright. Given the time, clarity, and brightness, I quickly confirmed it was Jupiter and its four moons, but it got me to thinking. Given his recent interest, had he ever had the experience of looking through a telescope? We’ve had the scopes up at the cottage repeatedly, and my mother-in-law’s family has looked numerous times, but I’ve never had it set up when my father-in-law’s side of the family has been around. So I suggested if we had a good night, maybe D could come for dinner and see Jupiter and Saturn.
Monday to Wednesday were out, and Thursday was uncertain, so we aimed for Friday. D brought his friend Z and the weather held. I would have loved to hear more about a friend of his who had passed away that week…97 years old, had served in a gun turret in a tank in WWII and had driven it all over Europe. » Read the rest
I’m usually a “telescope-only” sky observer. But last Thursday, August 22nd, I was up at the in-laws’ cottage, and after a couple of previous nights of “no go” seeing, the night was still looking iffy. Clouds were rolling in from the West, and it wasn’t obvious if it was even worth setting up the scope. I’ve done the same before at the same location, and almost always, the clouds sock me in.
So I decided not to set up. Instead, I went and borrowed their simple terrestrial binoculars and gave it a go while sitting on the dock. I could see Jupiter and Saturn easily with the naked eye, but I couldn’t resolve the discs with the binoculars. While they are better quality design, they aren’t very strong (7 x 25 perhaps?), and they seem to be out of collimation. Everything I tried to resolve ended up having a skewed shape to it. » Read the rest
In my previous posts, I had the same three targets. The moon is easy (ISO24, 1/250s), although the fuller it gets, the more washed out if I don’t use a filter:
And I can see some single frames of Saturn are worse than others (ISO32, 1/10s):
But I was REALLY setting up so I could play with my camera centring. As I noted in a previous post, the feedback from an online FB group was that my EP wasn’t centred. So I wanted to ensure 100% that I was centred last night. For one of my stars off to the side, defocused into a doughnut, I was clearly NOT centred (screengrab of Night Cap below):
But I moved the stars around a bit in the EP and managed to get something a little more balanced:
And then BAM, I got this:
Only minor differences in positioning, no difference in my centring over the EP. » Read the rest
In my previous two posts, I noted my standard setup for backyard imaging:
Celestron NexStar 8SE;
stock alt-azimuth mount;
an iPhone XS Max phone running Night Cap software;
the Phone Skope smartphone adapter; and,
a 25mm Celestron Plossl.
My last set of targets for the night was stars. Although my thinking was more like:
Okay, the moon is easy. I’ve got a handle on planets. Now I need to figure out how to do stars.
There’s a guy online named Loren Ball who can do an amazing job getting asteroids, and his stars are always pinpoint perfect. His technique is to use a hand-held magnifying glass to get his stars in focus, and then snap away. He sets his iPhone for ISO 8000, does 10s bursts in Night Cap, has documented all the buttons he pushes to do that, and then stacks 18 images in Nebulosity. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, it seems. » Read the rest
I love viewing globular clusters — big giant collections of stars all together. Although they tend to be bright, when I tried to image them on my old Android phone, it couldn’t even DETECT any light coming in from them. I did get one image from my wife’s old iPhone 6 Plus a year ago (ISO 7200, 10s, f/2.2):
So I knew it was possible. And with my new iPhone, these globulars were high on my imaging list, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. For Messier 4, I tried ISO 9200 and a 10s burst, which didn’t turn out too shabby:
M5 with the same settings was much more compact and bright:
For Messier 9, I bumped ISO to 10K, still 10s, and it is easily found, albeit a bit faint:
For Messier 10, I continued at ISO 10K, 10s burst, but I did it twice about 90 minutes apart:
A little better contrast in the second, but not a huge difference. » Read the rest