Monday, November 26, 2012

I Stand Corrected

Following Fridays "moon shadow on Jupiter" high I asked the question at Stargazers Lounge, a fine source of information at any level, and this was their response;

So that's it then, this weeks jobs will be cleaning my lens, checking my camera sensor and hopefully producing better shots.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Focusing on the Subject

Having had some successful nights observing and taking pictures I feel more relaxed setting up my equipment.  This is evident as I have now found how to focus my ep's when used in the projector.

As the moon was bright I thought I'd try Jupiter first.  These pictures are taken at 150X mag, the highest I can go with my current equipment, and shows a moon, top middle, during transit across the planet.  That's right, barely a week ago I was pleased I had cloud bands now I have a moon transit.  This is evidence of how much can be achieved in a short space of time if you just practice.  I have checked a few Stellarium and the Jupiters moon site (a link to this is on the right hand side of this page) and can't see that it was one of the major moons so I'll ask the question on the net and get back to you on that.

I also thought I'd take some movies and have a go at stacking.  What I have found is that my pc struggles with over 100 allignment points over 500 frames.  I also found that it takes a long time and my results were worse than the video.  It's a complex process trying to tell Registax which frames to use but again I will persevere and keep trying.

This is the video I am working from and shows Tycho in the middle of the frame.
This is a still I took of about the same area;

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When Old Friends Come a' Calling

The moon was a bit of a hindrance last week so tonight I went out and there it was 8.5 days old, a mere 242,195 miles away and at only 63% of it's brightest phase being just half full (or a waxing gibbous if we're going to get technical).

It's been ages since I've looked at it and, well, after scanning it for 10 minutes or so I thought I'd take a picture or 20.

(Exp 1/250sec ISO250 f5)

The Apennine mountains looked fantastic as the long shadows were cast down from their peaks (toward the top of the moon), likewise the craters Alphonsus and Arzachel with their mountains inside them (half way down at the line of termination.

Sometimes it's nice to revisit old friends!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ahhhhh Andromeda ....

So Al has produced a superb shot of Jupiter from his back garden. Not one to sit on my laurels I stepped-up to the plate. One of my personal favourites is M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy). I've tried to get this before but I was convinced that I could do better .... and how right I was! It was a very cold evening on Saturday (17th Nov) and the sky was superb.
Auriga, Jupiter, Taurus and Orion just starting to make it's way now - signalling (at least to me) the coming of winter, to name a few.

Here we have M31. Nikon D40 35mm f/1.8 ISO800 15sec.
And M45 (with Jupiter and Taurus). Nikon D40 35mm f/1.8 ISO400 8sec.

These images are the basic jpegs from the camera. I also shot in RAW but I could not get them any better in my image manipulation programs. So maybe that's a lesson learnt?
Happy viewing.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Like a Dog with a Bone

Early November, when the autumnal evenings are lit up with the flash of 2nd rate explosives are not normally a time I relish but after last Mondays pictures I thought I'd retry.  Seeing was pretty poor to awful due to the cloud and moisture but there were gaps in the cloud coverage so I hunkered down over the eyepiece / viewfinder to see if I could improve on my last Jupiter picture.
Well, it depends on how you measure success; I did use an 15mm eyepiece in my projector so in effect I was taking a picture at a 100x mag AND I did remember to shoot in RAW.
Details - Exp 1/50sec ISO 800

I have got a 10mm eyepiece which would be the next step but I'm happy with what I have at the moment. I also probably didn't have the camera set up exactly right & I didn't try taking a video and stacking the images.  Too many things to remember in the cold night air with the results of Chinese gunpowder skills blasting off all around you!

Astronomy is a real roller coaster ride.  You get a bit disheartened at first when you realise that the pictures you see in books are not the ones you'll ever see through your scope.  You accept that, enjoy the new astral sights and then you start to take pictures, which again brings you down as it's difficult to capture what you actually see but if anyone had told me that I could take a picture of Jupiters moons, like in the last post, 4 years ago I wouldn't have believed them, now I have definite cloud bands and a little colour.  I'm happy.

What next?  Andromeda!!


Monday, November 05, 2012

Remember, Remember........

Being a clear night I thought I would try for some more experimental photographs.

I still can't find infinity using my adapter/ eyepiece combo so thought I'd try some plain afocal shots using the camera as a 500mm f5 lens.  Unfortunately I didn't take the pictures in RAW so was unable to edit them as much.

This is what I got;
Jupiter with the Galilean Moons - Exposure 1/5 Second (From L-R Calisto, Ganymede, Io & Europa - though don't quote me on that!)
 Above is Jupiter (Exposure 1/640 sec ISO 400.  Now bear in mind I had no eyepiece so I have zoomed the backside out of this but I'm sure there are cloud bands visible!
And finally
The Pleiades. Exposue 2.5 secs ISO 640. I did take a shot of this a couple of years back so this is just a marker for me.  There is a little movement which may be the tripod or exposure time, I'm guessing it was movement.

Apart from all the fireworks going off it was a great sky tonight and not too cold.  Hopefully we'll have many more!


Friday, November 02, 2012

More Moon, More Learning

A couple of Moon shots; the top was taken yesterday and the other last week.

Both shots were taken by attaching the camera to the scope with no extra magnification.  The colouring is vastly different due to the exposure time.  The top needed to be slightly less.  The moon is a great target to practice with as when it's this bright the rest of the sky is bleached out making most astronomy pointless.

I'm also learning how to use different software to help correct my mistakes.  As an example I have "rescued" the top picture and given it a more realistic hue.