Monday, 21 December 2009

Some Younger Moon shots

A few shots of the younger moon taken in the cold and snow over the weekend

A bit earlier on, the sky had a pink tint as the sun was setting

and with a passer by

Then a couple from a little later on

I've not been brave enough to get the gear out, in spite of having some clear skies, as the snow and ice makes the garden hazardous without carrying expensive equipment...

Monday, 14 December 2009

The Moon, Geminds and an Older Moon

I managed to get a shot of the moon against the clear blue sky the other morning... Lovely sight it was too

Last night, apart from some clouds whipping through, I went looking for Geminids. In between the clouds. It was a truly breathtaking sky last night.

I sat out with my 10x50's and spent a little while hunting around with the bins, I'm finding it so much easier this year to find my targets. I can't remember the order, but ...

m31, m35, m36, m37, m38, m41, m42, m44, m45 to start with...

Collander 70, the Mirfak association, the cluster around Bellatrix (I'm sure it's another Collander though I can't recall). I think I also found the cluster at the heart of the rosette.

After being sat there for a while, I was amazed to find, that I could, with averted vision, see the little fish, and the smiley face in Auriga, seven of the sisters, and I'm sure I could also make out some of the Mirfak association without the bins. m45 appeared to glow in the sky.

Oh that the cloud had stayed away, and not kept whizzing through, and I almost could have preferred to have got out the rig, given my success (or lack thereof) with catching any Geminids.

But, I enjoyed it, the views were just stunning.

I managed to get 2 Geminids on chip, I'm going to recheck the others and see if I've caught any, but I doubt it.


as I had 90 shots... I made a star trails with them. The clouds has made an interesting effect

And then this morning, I spotted a 26 day old moon, hanging low in the wonderful colours of predawn

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Moon in the trees..

Firstly an apology. I messed up with the comments someone was trying to post yesterday, and they got deleted.... Sorry about that. Whoever that was, please don't take it the wrong way... it was my user error nothing more. I've done some digging, and managed to find the setting that caused me to mess this up I think...

I managed to get a couple of shots of the moon as it rose through the trees last night..

Monday, 7 December 2009

Collimation and a hoop

Had another clear night. I got setup, and decided to have a go at collimating the Skymax. What a pain that proved to be. Firstly, the little Mak has 6 collimation screws, 3 x 3mm and 3 x 2mm using Allen keys to adjust. That makes it tricky to start with, in the day, when you can see what you are doing. At night, that's just painful. Still with the near full moon up, it was quite bright. I started on the moon, to focus and ensure the finder was aligned, as using the QHY5v and a 2x barlow made the FOV of the Skymax particularly small (so small, that an out of focus Betelgeuse filled the screen), then slewed across to Betelgeuse, conveniently close by. I've gotta say, that using EQMOD and a game controller made this really easy. Anyway, I took the Mak in and out of focus and confirmed my suspicions, the rings were not concentric. So, I started in on collimation. Then realised I'd forgotten the instructions, so dug them out and started over. After the first set of adjustments, Betelguese was nowhere to be seen on screen, and no amount of wandering about could find it. I went back to the moon, and realigned the finder, and back to the star. And repeat, and repeat, and repeat. After about 1.5 hours of this, most of the time spent trying to find the star again, the rings were as concentric as I could make them by eye on the laptop screen, and I could no longer feel the Allen keys as I was using them. Needless to say, this is not a good idea and I kept dropping them. Oh, I should point out, the lack of sensation was down to the cold.

At this point, I decided I'd have a go at creating a mosaic of the terminator with the 2x barlow. So off I set. Some time later, and I'd captured 28 panes of the terminator, seems rather a lot, but hey, the shivers were getting silly, it was a bit cold and all the layers I'd stacked on just weren't keep the cold out anymore. So I cleared up.

I was amazed at the difference in the resulting images on each pane..

Here's an example, compare this to Bailly from the previous session...

I've got some odd lines in the image, I'm not sure why, but it might be a setting or interference from a power lead, or a number of things, and that'll be something for another night to work out. Anyway... after processing each pane and mosaicing it, I got a far larger image than I'd anticipated.

Click for full size.

I'm very happy with the result, and would like to try a full mosaic using the barlow, but that's for another time and plenty of it. I'm going to need to find some hard disk space too.

The following morning, with the moon low in the sky and the sun not yet risen, I spotted the moon framed in the trees

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mosaicing the moon

Having proved the camera works well on the moon, finally a clear night (and I mean properly clear), the first in 6 weeks, and I got the little Mak out for an attempt on a full lunar mosaic. Being full moon of course meant lots of segments. Anyway... A quick PA, balance, find the moon, focus and test and I was off. I drove the mount with EQMOD and used the game controller to move around the moon. I used VirtualDUB to check each AVI for alignment and to ensure I didn't miss any bits, I left plenty of overlap. I captured 34 sections. I probably didn't need that many, I actually only used 33 in the final mosaic. After stacking each 500 frame avi in Registax, I put the output into imerge and aligned as I went along. I also captured a few images with the Ultima x2 barlow, for a short string along the terminator and a single image of Bailly. I did try stacking the 2 x2 barlows, and using the x5 barlow. The seeing was not up to this, there were times, I wasn't even sure the seeing was up to imaging without a barlow but it worked out ok.

Anyway, here's the results.


The edge, this is a 5 pane mosaic

And the full disk mosaic, 33 pane mosaic.

Click for bigger. I enjoyed and needed that, although it was very cold.