Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Got home from work early today so had time to set up the Skywatcher just before it got dark. I wanted to get some more photos of the moon, 3 shots this time, 1/500th, 1/250th and 1/125th of a second exposure. This time the middle was the best I think.....

While framing this shot I saw a satellite "drop" by the dark part of the moon, always gives me a spooky feeling when I see things moving like that!

Compare this with a similar prime focus shot through the ETX80...the frame dimensions are identical...that means the images appear here as they would if viewed on a film strip.

After taking the photos decided to take a look at the moon with my lowest power eye piece, amazing detail - I will have to try to start finding my way around. Only problem is that even with 2 filters it still dazzles.

Just after that I got a view of what could only have been the ISS this was approx 17:45 and it was way brighter since last time I saw it (because of the work done recently by the Shuttle mission).

Just confirmed with Heavens Above that the pass was at 17:46 from West to East crossing overhead, will definitely need to get some more photos to compare with earlier in the year.

Just after this the clouds rolled in, maybe should have named the blog "cloud watching".


Friday, October 27, 2006

A chance purchase on eBay earlier this week obtained a copy of the Webb Society Star Atlas, got a copy for a tenner plus postage. This comes as a collection of some 40 odd pages that are held in clear plastic sleeves in a ring binder. These can be bought from the Society directly by visiting their site.

Because the pages are loose I took 4 to be colour copied and had two pairs of charts laminated back to back. I now have a couple of very rugged star charts of my most common areas of exploration, I'll get some more done soon. That way I can keep the originals nice and clean (and dry).

Anyway, tonight I went along to my local Astronomy Group for the second time.

An apparently rare occurence (clear skies) allowed us to spend some time outside using some scopes that members had brought along. I got to see the double cluster in Perseus through a 14" Dobsonian, amazing view. We also caught a glimpse of Comet Swan and M31.

The meetings are I think well worth attending it's so good to chat with people who share your interests, they start with an overview of the coming months night sky. After the observing we spent an hour watching a DVD about the search for Supernovae.

Just about to have some food then I'll try to get outside to see what I can see.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

First clear couple of hours for what seems like ages, so out went the Skywatcher. And my first target was M57, really struggled with the finderscope and in the end decided to crouch behind the scope and look along the whole OTA, of course the problem then was locking the drive cams without the tube moving!

Anyway, first look through the EP and Bingo! Looked very odd through the EP wasn't quite sure what it was at all except that I knew something odd lurked in the neighbourhood.

Quickly nipped inside to grab the DSLR and hooked it up at prime focus, took a couple of tracked pics at 20 seconds exposure. Errrm, quite chuffed with the result

Canon 350d at prime focus of Skywatcher 200mm Newtonian 20 seconds ISO 400.

M57 is in the bottom right of this photo and looks like a smoke ring to me!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

First evening since the last entry that we've had a clear night, problem was that it got dark by 7.00pm but I wasn't able to begin to set up the scope until well after 8.00pm!

Took an age to align the scope and then it wasn't perfect :o(

Managed to get in some views of the Pliaedes but at my lowest power EP can't fit the whole view in.

Having trouble wth he keybard at theminu so ll updat later

Friday, October 13, 2006

What started as a promising evening turned out cloudy again.

Initially, as twilight was falling it looked very promising, then it looked like this mornings fog was returning, then it cleared again.

So deciding that one must make the effort even though after a tough week at work I just felt like doing nothing...I carted out the Skywatcher.

After failing miserably to polar align the scope I decided to scan the sky to see what I could see. But to be honest that sort of observing is rarely productive in my experience.

In the end I noticed that the Pleaides were rising so I decided to set up the camera to try my first photos of the Seven Sisters through the new scope. I got in a couple of shots but by the time I had decided on a shutter speed and orientation of the camera frame, guess what?

The Pliaedes had disappeared behind a huge bank of cloud that had crept up from the south! Mission aborted for now!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Late yesterday afternoon the sky was as clear and blue as it has been for a long time, as the sun went down though some high cirrus clouds started to drift in. Next the waning full moon made an apearance. All in all not ideal conditions for setting up the scope.

So I decided to take the camera out to see what I could get n terms of static photos.

First up was Lyra...

Next was Cygnus....

Then Cassiopeia....

Finally, I've always wanted to try one of those photos where the stars trail around Polaris...

This final picture was a 30 minute exposure, and it took nearly another 30 mins for the camera to process it. After all that there was a lot of noise, the image above was after post processing in Photoshop to reduce noise and adjusting levels.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First clear night for weeks and I had to go out to a social event with work! Got home around 10.30 and managed to drag the skywatcher outside, by this time though the moon was beginning to spoil most of my visible sky.

Only one thing for it then, take my first look at the moon through the new scope, awesome is the word, and that's through the lowest power eyepiece. Next task then was to see how much of the frame is filled with the camera?

Canon EOS350D, ISO:100, 1/500s, 35mm equiv focal length 1600mm.

I'm quite pleased with the result! I've cropped some blank sky to the left as the moon had drifted between shots and was thus to the right of the frame, but the vertical proportions are as is. I took a dozen shots and bracketed all the way between 1/60s to 1/500s.

Off to bed now as work in the morning :o(