I started setting up my astrophotography gear at 21:30 in order to collect colour subs for M106. At the same time I pulled out my Orion Optics UK 10 inch Dobsonian and mounted on my Equatorial Platforms USA equatorial platform set for 52 degrees latitude. This allows high power viewing without the need to constantly nudge the telescope to keep an object in the field of view, and, as we discovered tonight, is also a boon for photography through the scope!
Rhys and I viewed a number of objects which Rhys then photographed using my Samsubg S10 Note+ phone hand-held to the eyepiece using a variety of exposure lengths between 1 and 4 seconds.
By this means, he photographed M51 and showed spiral structure, the Cigar Galaxy M82 and demonstrated its central bifurcationg dust lane, M13 and M92 globular clusters in Hercules showing the difference in compactness between them, and the Ring Nebula M57 in Lyra, showing its central hole.
The photographs were mostly through our 17mm eyepiece – lower magnifications tended to work less well as it became clear that he needed a bright star in the field of view to focus lock on and with longer focal length eyepieces stars did not appear bright enough for this purpose.
Phone set to maximum ISO 3200, maximum aperture F1.5.
When Rhys went to bed I continued my observing, as the night remained clear, contrary to the weather forecast. I was continuing to take subs on M106 with my refractor and Altair Asyto 183M camera, so also continued to observe through Dob as well.
High magnification on the Ring Nebula with my 6mm Ethos eyepiece showed the centre of the ring well.
I followed this with Sunflower Galaxy both with 20mm Explore Scientific and 6mm Ethos eyepieces. Given how difficult I used to find this object to locate, all of a sudden it seems very bright in the eyepiece, even on a night like tonight which has such a short period of astronomical darkness – although I guess I am in it as now it is 00:55!
M108 located with 20mm eyepiece – the sky isn’t really that dark and M108 looks like a faint slash – an easy star hop though.
Owl Nebula – could not observe tonight! Something obscuring sky at just wrong point – possibly high level cloud but stars there were faint and difficult to make out and the Nebula impossible to detect. Whatever it was would not seem to budge.
I have had a really enjoyable night after a difficult and very busy week at work. Feel a lot better!