As I turned my telescope towards Gemini last night, I realised I hadn’t yet tried hunting for ‘faint fuzzies’ at all this year, as my astronomy activities seem to have been devoted to photography.
I started using my new Skywatcher eight-inch mirror scope in 2015, after years using a ten-inch mirror dobsonian. I’m ashamed to say I’ve not mastered the equatorial mount on my new Skywatcher – I’m so used to the dobsonian method. I spent some time tonight watching some youtube tutorials of polar alignment, and I’m looking forward to trying it next clear sky.
So just for the sake of completeness, I thought I’d list the Messier objects I’ve found mentioned in my observation notes with the Skywatcher over 2015 & 2016. It reads like a list of the brighter deep-sky objects, with a summer bias.
- M13 Globular Cluster in Hercules (‘the ‘Great Cluster’)
- M27 Dumbell Nebula in Vupecula
- M31 Galaxy Andromeda Galaxy
- M32 Galaxy (Andromeda ‘companion’)
- M35 Open Cluster in Gemini
- M36 Cluster Auriga
- M37 Cluster Auriga
- M38 Cluster Auriga
- M42 Orion Nebula
- M44 Beehive Cluster
- M45 Pleiades Open Cluster
- M57 Ring Nebula Lyra
- M65 Galaxy in Leo
- M66 Galaxy in Leo
- M67 Open Cluster Cancer
- M92 Globular Cluster Hercules
I’m hoping to add a lot more to that list soon. A ‘goto’ mount would get round that lot in an hour, but I’m staying trad while I can still read a map.
Last night’s photo-session in Wombourne heralded some successes and some failures. I tried to image M51 (the double-galaxy in Canes Venatici, but right by Ursa Major), but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I got an image, but without a proper guided telescope or knowing which settings to use on the camera, it was pretty useless. Off to the Stargazers Lounge for help on that one! (again!).
Setting the camera on auto-exposure though, I was able to image a couple of open clusters quite nicely. I got a too-grainy M35 in Gemini, and the double cluster in Perseus, (perhaps my favourite open cluster). My Jupiter shot I’ll include here again, as I’ve lightened and labelled it. And lastly. Mizar in Ursa Major, (the first double star to be discovered, according to Turn Left At Orion). I must have been tired last night, because when checking the images I was disappointed in a ‘trailing’ in Mizar, not realizing it was the double star, Mizar B, I could see. I can’t even remember if I used the Barlow for this, I think perhaps not, (hurry up Cygnus! Can’t wait to image Alberio!)
Again, I put these images here not as great examples of astro-photography, more to plot my progress as I get (hopefully) better.
So all in all, not a bad couple of hours from a pretty light-polluted area. All good practice for the campsite excursions of the summer.
I took another short film, (about 30 seconds) and used the same method as my last Jupiter shot. The planet was higher in the sky than last time, and the air a lot steadier. I’m getting to grips with the bare bones of planetary imaging now, but there’s still a lot to learn. Three moons are visible in this shot if you look hard enough.
Very pleased to have captured the famous Great Red Spot. Whoo!
This weekend, I struggled to see Orion after the evening sunset. I expect it’ll be late summer before I see him again, and only then if I’m up early (late) enough. I took this picture of the mighty constellation in December 2016.
I sharpened the Jupiter picture from my last post in Registrax, and was pleasantly surprised at the image I was able to pull out, given it was so low in the sky and imaged through the city’s haze. I’m seriously thinking of spending a few quid on a better quality 2X barlow. The one I used for this shot came with the telescope (the 8″ Skywatcher).
That photo was taken earlier this month, but last night I was in Shropshire sans telescope, but was pleased to see Jupiter quite high, just above the bright star Spica in Virgo.
Here’s a map of the area from April’s Astronomy Now magazine.
I took a short film of Jupiter two nights ago, and I ran it through this … https://sites.google.com/site/astropipp/
To get the MP4 file as an AVI, then I stacked the film using autostakkert…
I don’t really know what I’m doing yet, especially with the wavelet function on Registrax, which I gather should sharpen it considerably. The image I recorded was too small really, I didn’t realise there’s a zoom function on the Canon, so I could have got more detail. But given that it’s my first attempt, and the planet was very low, it’s a decent enough image to make me want to re-visit Jupiter soon.
I thought it might be cool to have a look at a small (but massive, really), part of the lunar surface, a couple of days apart. So here’s the ‘Montes Apenninus’ .. looking dramatic Tuesday night, less so on Thursday. Acording to Wikki The total length of the range is about 600 km (370 miles), with some of the peaks rising as high as 5 km (3.1 miles)
It’s been a while since I’ve done some serious lunar observing. Since getting my SLR in July last year I’ve been mostly photographing. Which is cool, but you miss the subtle changes that occur. The peaks in the middle of some craters, for instance, can change dramatically in an hour. But you need lots of time and a high power eyepiece for such observations.
My stacking of the Jupiter film I took Tuesday didn’t happen today – but watch this space … I’m seriously wanting to do some Jovian imaging with my life, soon!
There was an excellent talk last night at the Wolverhampton Astronomical Society, on the colours of the Moon. I’d seen a blue hue The Sea of Tranquillity before, but only on my photographs, so tonight I went out and got a (rather nice) single exposure. I’ve bumped up the saturation, and I think it’s pretty clear on this shot I’ll print it out and take it to the next meeting.
I also took some movie of Jupiter, which I’m hoping to stack using Registrax, but after an hour of fiddling, I’m giving up for tonight
Still, very pleased with the Moon image. The Moon was very high … the last time I had chance to photograph this phase, (seven days old perhaps?), it was lower, and I didn’t get this clarity.