Now 2 days old the moon at 11% illumination presented it self in the evening sky at an elevation of approx. 12 degrees at 21:30, easily visible, unlike yesterday when I could only pick it out using binoculars.
Its companion this evening was Venus, easily visible unlike mercury of the previous evening. Didn’t have to travel any further than front lawn for these shots.
Here are my images of Saturn for the last 3 years. The ring tilt was at its maximum in 2017 and is now beginning to close up again. You can just about make this out from the images. Saturn was, and still is pretty low in the sky during this period.
Having been seriously impressed with Neil’s planetary images, i have an ADC on order!
Meanwhile, I had another go at Saturn last night. Had it not been for Neil’s images, I would have been quite pleased with this one! Best I’ve managed this apparition!
I then did a composite exposure of the visible moons.
While waiting for Mars to rise to an appropriate position, I vistited these 2 planetary nebulae, NGC 6818 in Sagittarius and NGC 6781 in Aquila.
Eventually, Mars became visible,and I tried this image, bearing in mind Mars’s altitude was only about 11 degrees. As I’m sure you know, Mars is currently covered by a dust-storm, hence the lack of visible surface detail.
There did seem some vague hint of detail so here is the image with an extreme contrast stretch, followed by a screenshot of Mars from “Stellarium” for comparison. (Stellarium shows an accurate depiction of the surface facing us – a useful resource)
The day old moon was setting on the 14th July with mercury in close attendance, well I went to my usual spot for these events, set up Canon 450D on tripod with cable shutter release and 150-500mm Sigma zoom lens. Sunset well into the NW around 21:30 then patiently scanned horizon in W to WNW direction with 7×50 binoculars for sign of moon which was going to be a thin crescent of approx 3.4%. The more worrying feature was a low cloud bank across the horizon ( see Andys previous post to this) which made for a glorious sunset but was going to cause problems trying to view Mercury and in fact as mercury was about 1-2 degrees to left of moon and about 2 degrees below it never punched through the murk. First image of moon was at 21:46 and last at 22:06 as it slipped into the cloud bank.
This is my first blog post so apologies if I break any rules!
Several folks made kind comments about my imaging setup at last Friday’s meeting; It’s a Skywatcher 150PL on a HEQ5, I was using a ZWO ASI120MC camera (colour) with an x3 barlow and an atmospheric dispersion corrector (ADC). The filter wheel was just set for a an IR cut filter. The ADC has a pair of prisms and is used to correct the ‘blurring’ caused by the low angle of the planets at the moment – I’m still getting the hang of it.
Seeing and transparency for Jupiter was very good, but Saturn was less good and I only got one decent run before it hid behind a tree…
Mars came up and I spent about an hour on it, my first try of the year. Unfortunately my EQdir lead blew up (literally!) and although the mount was tracking it was drifting a bit and I had to target manually which was ‘challenging’. The imaging runs when it was low down were awful, especially as it took a while to get the ADC dialled in with my attention more on keeping the red blur on screen! The final image shows next to no detail, but all other images form that evening are pretty low on detail 9although some are a bit better than mine). This is because of a planet-wide dust storm on Mars, hopefully it will die down before opposition in about a month.
The good news is that mount and computer survived the exploding dongle and an off the shelf USB-serial dongle was easy to wire up as a replacement.
Thanks to all RAG members for making me feel welcome, and giving me some really helpful advice and assistance.
<edit, the previews should now link to the full size images – I hope!>