Wednesday evening I went outside and took some pictures of a rough alignment of the planets Saturn, Mars and the star Antares. The ruler straight alignment occurred earlier in the day so I had to settle for a slight bend. Vertically from the top, near the center of the frame the bright stars are Saturn, Mars, and Antares. If you know your constellations you can also make out the pincers of the scorpion on the right as Antares is the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.This was shot with a Canon Rebel T5, 75mm lens, 1 second exposure, at f4.5, ISO 1600.
I just “finished” this parallelogram binocular mount. I will probably make refinements after using it. The tripod is borrowed from my small Nexstar altazimuth mount. The lumber from leftover bamboo flooring I’ve been holding onto for when I would need it for a project. The counterweights borrowed from a dumbbell set. Those are 7×50 binos you see. I’m going to use this for the Astronomical League’s Binocular Messier Club and maybe more. No idea if I will like binocular astronomy but I will find out. I plan to try the larger binos at the RRO with it as well.
If I had a schedule I guess I’d be about 10 months behind it. You may remember last summer’s Extreme Makeover Telescope Edition. I put a lot of work into turning a 10 inch tube assembly into a working Dobsonian reflector. Then I got a 9.25″ SCT and the 10″ just didn’t seem so important. Well, after working on the Library Telescope Project with CAAS and CALS I got energized again and decided to finish the project. See the picture. We had first light about a week ago and the Moon looked just fine. The yellow elastic band acts as a variable counterweight and seems to be just right.
I plan to use this on my quest for the Astronomical League’s Messier Club which does not allow for the use of goto mounts. I’ve seen them all before, I’ve even photographed them all before (though I’ve lost them) but now I start over. I plan to also work on the binocular version of the same club.
The two inner planets are very low in the western sky very close together. Last night they were a Moon’s width apart, tonight apparently a little more. I set up at the high point in Wellington Hills near the Fellowship Church at sunset. By 8:28 I spotted Venus in the binoculars. It took another 8 minutes to spot Mercury. Here is one of a bunch of pictures, mostly unsuccessful. Both planets are in the lower right, Venus is the brighter while Mercury is above it at about 11 o’clock.
I decided to show the entire frame instead of cropping so you might have a better idea of scale. This was a 300mm zoom with a DSLR. 1/160s at f/5.6 ISO 3200. Processing in Lightroom.
It was a hot and muggy night. And there may have been chiggers too. Its for sure the air was not as tranquil as I hoped. However, I was able to capture these images of three of our neighbors.All images where taken in red light with my monochrome ASI120MM. In reverse order from how the shots were taken, Saturn was the star of the evening with detail showing in the rings and the belts in the atmosphere.and I think I might be able to make out a little of the polar hexagon. Mars is getting farther away quickly and so is smaller than a month ago. It is also now showing a gibbous phase instead of the “Full Mars” of a few weeks ago. I was able to get some detail but Mars always leaves you wanting more. Finally, Jupiter is past its prime for the year. Getting lower in the west every day it suffers from more air. It was lower than the other two and that is saying something. Also it doesn’t record as well in red light for some reason. Note the two large storms on Jupiter. I’d say one was the Great Red Spot but it should not have been there when the shot was taken so I don’t know what they are.
After a few middling shots of Jupiter with the color ASI120MC, I decided to go gray with his brother the monochrome ASI120MM using color filters. Mars was first and I chose red since it supposedly shows more detail with a red filter. I stuck with prime focus as the seeing wasn’t good enough for a barlow. I think things turned out pretty good. This is a stack of the best 20% of 10,000 3ms frames.
Next up was Saturn, I stuck with red because it was in there. I was so impressed I stuck with red. I did later try a light blue filter but it blocked so much light I went back to red. There was so much detail I may just switch to monochrome with a filter wheel. The two cameras have the same number of pixels but since one is color it effectively has a third the pixels of the other. This was a stack of 20% of 4000 37ms frames, note the exposure was almost 10x that of Mars.