Moon Observations

I decided the best way to proceed with recording my observations of the moon was to make a special observing log just for the moon, and organise it according to the days of the month. This way I can keep a track of exactly what’s visible when. Before I carry on, I just wondered if anyone would like to suggest a few more features to try and find.  More specifically, what’s the best example of a ghost crater and lava dome?

(Day one is new moon)

Day 8 – exactly on first quarter
Got a good view of the Alpine Valley (the largest valley on the moon). It was quite close to the terminator and appeared as a dark wide line. Cloud prevented any more observations.

Day 9 – one day after first quarter
I have decided this is probably the best day of the month to view the moon. Moving from top to bottom, I got a good view of the Alpine Valley. Also a good view of Montes Apenninus, one of the best mountain ranges on the moon – the line of mountains ended just short of the terminator. Further down, the Straight wall (the largest fault line) was as clear as the nose on your face. Decided that 250x magnification definitely showed more detail than 155. The Alpine Valley has a serrated edge on the side furthest away from the terminator.

Day 10 Found the Straight Wall. It’s in the middle of a ghost crater, but it’s barely visible.

Day 11 Observing the moon with Harry. I couldn’t see the straight wall.

Day 12
I found two lava domes, Gamma and Delta, near the crater Gruithuisen. (Just a little down from the Bay of Rainbows.)  The 13mm eyepiece worked well, but the 8mm was even better, so maybe about 200x is best for these small features on the moon.  Close by I also found a lava channel on the Aristarchus Plateau. It was white with a few sharp turns. I’m not sure if this is classed as a sinuous rille.

Full moon
Can’t find the Cordillera Mountains, so this will not go on the list of good objects to find.

3 days after full moon and 3 days before first quarter
Found the alpine Valley, just above and to the right of the Sea of Rains. It’s in the middle of a narrow triangle formed by three prominent craters – Plato, Mitchell and Eudoxus. Even though the terminator was a considerable distance away, it was still visible, but only just. Must try when the terminator is closer for a better view.


90mm aperture tour.

Swadlincote 24/1/18 90mm achro, 13mm Nagler, 23mm Panoptic , 21mm Hyperion , 7.5 Ultimata and furious barking dog next door .

Vixen 90 f11 my white light solar, out and let’s see what it can do.

Quick tour of Messier’s, lots of contrast and acceptable views of Bode’s, a lovely M35 and “the Eskimo ” NGC 2392 quite obvious in the field. Playing around I managed some views with the Hyperion 21 and 10mm looking impressively sharp across the field.

Cepheus. The “Garnet Star” (SAO 33693) looked spectacularly deep orange, this huge star would fill the orbit between Jupiter and Saturn. It varies from +3.6-+5.0. I caught the colourful triple midst IC 1396.

Canis Major.M41 showed delightful chains.Over to h3945 (SAO 173344) narrower colourful “winter Albireo” at 26.8″ than iota Cancri.

Cancer.managed to split Tegmine, then onto iota (08h47.8m. +28 41′) at 30.1″ and a lovely colourful +4 +6.

Lepus.R (“Hind’s Crimson”) +8.7 SAO 150058 gave not much , over the town with the moon still up. It does vary to become just blood red. Massive enough to fill Jupiter’s orbit.

Monoceros. NGC2301 , still dragon like ! Great tour of binaries and multiples.
Samoht (α) very bright orange (giant x60 diameter of Sol) 148 lys away (SAO134986)
Σ956 ,a very challenging triple ( aperture !)+8 +9+10.7. X9.4 diameter of Sol.
Σ910 orange giant, wide at 66″ +6.9 +8.1
10 Monocerotis (SAO 133299) +5 +9.5 at 77″.
8 Mon.(SAO 113812) 12.3″ split 2 degrees ne of the rosette.Unrelated pair.
Beta Mon. Finest triple in our hemisphere, bright and split clean 2.9″.(SAO133317)
15 Mon, (SAO 114258), base of the tree ,NGC2264.
Zeta (ζ) (SAO 135551) yellow and blue arc of triple stars.
ΟΣΣ 79,lovely orange colour.
V838 lovely red of this variable at 07h04m. -3 50′.

Some very surprising views, contrast and colour. Σ 956 was very pleasing  as Sissy Haas reported as not being seen in 125mm aperture. Long 90 mm achromatic scopes are fairly cheap and for the size and light weight ,give great colour and contrast.

clear skies !


A very lovely M50 with a 21mm Hyperion. 23mm giving x43, 21mm x48 and 7.5mm giving x133.

Edited just now by cotterless45

LOMO Biolam Microscope restoration.

As you’ll have gathered, Andy got me an old LOMO Biolam microscope for Christmas. Included in the sale were an assortment of extras ‘upgrades’ (all in their own wooden boxes) to the original base unit (most I don’t think have ever been used), including a binocular head with a pair of x7 and x10 eyepieces.

Being 41 years old, it needed some TLC – the main issue being the infamous ‘Russian Tank Grease’ originally used!

You can tell it’s age as the serial number contains it’s year of manufacture – just like Takahashi do, so the ’77’ is 1977.

This instrument is still a ‘LOMO’ version, later, it was also made and marketed under the Zenith brand (we used their cameras at art college!)

Over time, this grease has solidified (think your bonfire toffee apples), so most things that were supposed to move were either very stiff or just plain stuck.

Not being very ‘DIY’, I’ve spent the last few weeks tentatively stripping it down and soaking various parts in white spirit and WD40.


Andy came round just after Christmas and we had ‘first light’ – this image is of a Lilly Ovary, iPhone 6 held up to the 10x eyepiece in the Binocular attachment (adds 1.5x mag) and a 20x objective (so 300x)

It was pretty tricky to achieve focus as the main (coarse focuser) was lumpy and the fine focus unit inoperable….

The microscope (thankfully) turned out to be pretty easy to take apart.

Below, the main/coarse focus unit (after spending a week in a bath of white spirit). Brushed clean with my old tooth brush and re-greased with a modern silicon alternative.


Image below – bottom of the ‘stage base’ – the bit where you place your slide (‘rotating stage’ also stuck!) This shows the silver-grey fine focuser mounted on the side.

Most of the microscope is cast metal and brass. The only plastic part was this strip of gearing for the condenser (the unit that focuses the light source onto the slide/specimen). The two screws though caught me out – the top being countersunk and the lower a pan-head!

The brass is ‘pre-polished’….

Below images (x2) – back of same ‘stage’ part….

…..and with gearing removed….

The biggest issue was the fine focuser. The actual unit is self contained, like the inside of a watch and ‘runs- dry’ – so no grease. Whilst it worked on it’s own, I could not get the fine focus to work once everything was reassembled…

The large metal pin (above) sits in that circular recess shown below in the middle of that brass piece. Inside the main cavity sits the fine focuser which mates to the fine focus gearing/knob just seen in the shadow right at the back.

It turned out that the brass part (with circular recess) is supposed to freely move up and down with a turn of the fine focuser…

….the movement dampened by a large spring that sits inside this circular recess on the other side (top). The spring is held in place under tension by the serial number ‘date’ cover shown earlier.


Once we had worked out how this works Andy………. hit it…… (carefully) with a hammer….(!!!) after judisious use of WD40. That freed the brass dovetail allowing cleaning, polishing and re-greasing…

41 years of grease (finally) removed !

Amazing what a bit of Brass can do!

Once all back together everything finally worked!


Andy headed off and I finished polishing up the chrome objective head and attaching the X/Y upgrade to the stage.

Later in the evening I popped over to Andy’s to try the microscope out. I still have the condenser upgrade to sort (Russian tank grease again) and then sort an LED / Halogen illuminator to replace the 15w bulb version (itself an upgrade over the supplied mirror).


Andy’s calibration slide – each line is 0.01mm apart.


The moon….?


ET’s hand !




Second first light for Damian’s LOMO Biolam microscope

Following renovation – excellent results!

Commercial stained slides of fungi (Aspergillus and Saprolegnia) & pond water organism (Desmid) – Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera using 23mm eyepiece adapter in eyepiece of binoviewer on LOMO Biolam microscope (binoviewer adds 1.5x magnification to this microscope).

Andy & Damian

10x objective – calibration slide – each division = 0.01mm:

Aspergillus – 20x objective (Aspergillus is a genus consisting of a few hundred mould species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli. Viewing the fungi under a microscope, Micheli was reminded of the shape of an aspergillum, from Latin spargere, and named the genus accordingly [Wikipedia]):

Saprolegnia – 10x objective – see fruiting body and mycellum below (Saprolegnia is a genus of water moulds often called “cotton moulds” because of the characteristic white or grey fibrous patches they form [Wikipedia]):

Desmid x40 objective (a single-celled freshwater alga which appears to be composed of two rigid cells with a shared nucleus. The presence of desmids is usually an indicator of unpolluted water [Wikipedia]):

Renovating LOMO Biolam microscope 21/1/2018

Continuing from yesterday, Damian and I unbound the dovetail on the fine focus mechanism from its saddle plate – we have found that the fine focus on this microscope locks up as the grease dries and it takes a lot of work to sort it out. It is also possible to easily break some vital bits and – as we did – through away bits accidently – some like a curved springy washer might look broken – golden rule – be gentle and also don’t through anything away even if it looks broken when you are renovating instruments like this!

Andy & Damian


Current early “Double doubles”.

In addition to the current early morning Lyra giving the” double doubles “of epsilon and the wider Σ 2470 Σ2474, there are some earlier and easier “double doubles. ” These are bright , easy to find and easy with small aperture.

Σ7 ( appears as Σ17 on the map ) with Σ401, paralell pairs.(SAO 75970)     (Near the Pleiades)
Σ742 paralell to Σ740 ( near M1)
Σ674 and Σ680 , pairs with near identical separations and magnitudes.

Σ1088 and Σ1087, nicely angled.
Σ1007 and h3288 in a full field.  

These rare wonderful sights will hopefully spur you on to the pleasures and treasures of binary stars,

under clear skies !