Lunar Crescent Mosaic

This one’s been in my camera for a few days- I took it last Tuesday. It’s made of a mosaic of nine panels- each one the best 5% of frames from a 30 second avi. This was a bit tricky to get- it was only just dark enough whilst I was capturing and the seeing was terrible so this isn’t as sharp as I’d like. Still quite pleased to have got it though.

Working version showing the panels:

Final Version:

Hand-held photos of lunar surface taken with Samsung S10+ phone through eyepiece on Orion 10 inch Dobsonian Telescope plus equatorial platform 29/5/2020

Hand-held photos of lunar surface taken with Samsung S10+ phone through eyepiece on Orion 10 inch Dobsonian Telescope plus equatorial platform 29/5/2020.

Lichfield, UK

Some of these using 3mm equivalent eyepiece – the equatorial platform really helps stabilise the image.



Observing Feast

Had the 14″ out as the forecast looked good and no work today… Before joining the others for the virtual star party Sam and I tried splitting a few doubles that were emerging in the twilight. It’s funny how your observing develops- doubles didn’t really interest me much to start with, but as time has gone on I’ve become a little addicted to it. I’ve found with my gear an aperture mask and (if the seeing will take it) really high magnification (470x last night) works well.

Epsilon Lyra: you could drive a bus through there!

Izar: Ok more like a road bike (with skinny tyres) but still a nice clear split.

Next spent a bit of time setting up an imaging run, then rejoined the club online call on audio and we tried to look at the same features on the moon. The seeing was superb. Great to share these highlights with others:

Lunar X- my first observation.

Lunar V- likewise!

Walther- spectacular shadow reaching from central peak and picking out features on the crater floor.

Ptolemaeus- wow! Just perfectly placed with the crater rim picked out as a shadow across the crater floor. I spent ages on this trying to imagine the sight at the edge of the shadow as the sun crested the 2.5km high ridge above the crater floor. Reading today that the crater is close to 100 miles wide it isn’t quite as I imagined. I suspect for 95% of the lunar day this crater is a bit meh to observe- but so perfectly placed tonight with all sorts of textures and features in the floor it was an awesome sight.

Ok so now it was darkish, time to go deep space…

M13- familiar, but a wonder every time. Propeller visible.

ZetaHerc- split came and went in the seeing, but pretty clear at times. Credit card split, not road bike.

M81 Central shape, hazy outlying areas
M82 a sleek line, some mottling despite proximity to the moon.

Now Cygnus was over the rooftops to the east. Time for a summer target feast:
Full veil complex in oiii & 30mm. Lovely view, witches broom much the brighter bit, wonderful to have it back.
Crescent nebula- yes! First sight!!! Faint but just visible in oiii. Only really sure because of the keystone asterism framing the wisp.
M27 dumbbell- in Baader zoom and Oiii filter. Apple core shape prominent with fainter view of the outer lobes.
M57 the ring – very bright in oiii, still easily visible with no filter.
M71- quite faint but pleasing
M56- very nice- quite faint but with even distribution.

Ok- now 2am and only Andy and I left so one last object and the sky is now darkest around Ursa Major.
M51- spiral arms!!! Yes! Drifting in and out of perception and requiring AV but a very fine view.

So- packed up the dob and the imaging rig and was just locking up and about to go to bed when Jupiter popped round the side of the house and said “You don’t want to do that!” Quickly grabbed the 8 inch:

Jupiter- 4 moons and stripes oh yeah!!! Couldn’t make out much detail with it being so low in the sky, but great to see it again.
Saturn- My log says “& Titan” but looking at Sky Safari now I think it was more likely to be Iapetus. I couldn’t see the Cassini division but there was a hint of banding.

Wow- one of those super awesome sessions that come along so rarely. A real pleasure and such a range of stuff seen. Would have preferred to do it at Rosliston, but a good alternative to share it virtually with other club members.

Best not plan anything too demanding today!

Andy’s solar video files from 25/5/2020

My video files from yesterday – all AVI files.

Damian’s firewire camera.

My Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 120mm OTA – later videos on list with 50mm aperture mask, early ones without.

HEQ5 Pro mount.



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M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules

I’m particularly pleased with this image. I’ve been wandering around the southern sky picking up ‘missing Messiers’ for my collection, but a few nights ago I though I would try and get some better data for M13.

The initial red subs were a bit poor due to the lack of real darkness, so I took about an hour of subs and chose the best. For green and blue I took about half an hour’s worth of 2 ½ minute subs.

My first process was a bit meh, so I re-did it focusing on bringing out faint detail and being incredibly careful with curves not to bleach the core. Even then on my final curve stretch I had to mask out the core but was rewarded by an extraordinary number of very tiny stars in the outer parts of the cluster. View the image full size and zoom right in, or just check out the inset at the bottom of this post!


M13 - Great Cluster in Hercules
M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules


M13 zoomed in
M13 zoomed in

Observing Log 24-25/5/2020 Lichfield

Observations last night:

22:30. Set up Altair Astro 183M mono camera to take colour data on M106. Camera on my Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA on EQ6 on roll out platform in garden in Lichfield, UK.

Took while to synchronise mount with sky and then GOTO M106.

Guiding working reasonably well most of time – occasional big guiding spikes associated with error just > 3 arc-seconds – I suspect due to wind, settling to 1-2 arc-seconds RMS error on guiding, mostly < 1.

Went for shower before going outside to pull out 10 inch Orion Dobsonian on equatorial platform. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I don’t need to go to work so I cam stay outside. Yippee!

Saw ISS go over to South.

23:48 Just seen spectacular meteor lasting couple seconds going from South to North in area between Great Square of Pegasus and feet of Ursa Major. Stood out for me as appeared to be dropping down although I think this is probably an artifact of where it was in sky – low in northwest.

Definitely the wind that is causing brief moments of worsening guiding accuracy – just witnessed it happen.

00:15. Taking a last look at Virgo cluster of galaxies this year before they drop down in the west – or more importantly drop behind top of my house in the west!

Aimed directly between Denebola and Vindemiatrix. Immediately dropped straight down onto Virgo A – comparing adjacent star asterisks to chart in Sky Safari confirmed location and find.

Virgo A is bright fuzzy blob in 20mm Explore Scientific (ES) 100 degree field of view eyepiece. In 9mm ES of same series it was a bigger fuzzy blob, still without detail – but then sky isn’t that dark, being summer and centre of Lichfield.

It might be summer but time for coat and hat! Getting a bit cold out here…..

Just taken photo of Virgo A using hand held Samsung S10+ phone through 9mm ES.

M57 Ring Nebula, hand held Samsung Note 10+:

I have forgotten which globular cluster this one was (below):

02:52. Sky getting light and more difficult to find objects. Got plenty of colour data on M106 so hopefully it can all be processed to help me get my first colour image of M106, and combine with the luminence data I collected the week before last.

03:30. Just packed away. Dawn definitely on its way with significantly brighter sky. No dawn chorus yet. I am off to bed!


Observing Mercury for the first time – conjunction of Mercury and Venus

Rhus and I took these photos from Streethay near Lichfield, UK.

They are taken using hand held Samsung S10+ phone by Rhys whilst I am aiming my image stabilised 12×36 binoculars at the two planets. Most people would have emphasised the conjunction of Mercury and Venus and indeed we caught this in our photos, also showing Venus has a phase like the Moon. However,  we have emphasised Mercury as it is the first time we have we have managed to observe it with certainty after many failed attempts in past.

OK – the pictures are not great – after all hand held phone to small binoculars – but they prove we saw the conjunction and planets!

Andy and Rhys