Category : General

Moon Watch 22-07-07

I could not believe it another clear night. I decided to out a bit earlier tonight whilst it was still light and set up. The moon was out and a nice site in my garden. I decided to try and take some video of the moon using my Philips SPC900 to try and compare the output with the Logitech Quickcam Pro4000. It was also a good time to try out my Canon SLR on the moon.

The only problem going out so early with the laptop in tow was that lots of mosquitos were attracted by the light and the taste of me! So I darted back inside to cover myself in insect repellant, which seemed to not do too much, it wasn’t until the laptop was turned off and it got darker that they seemed to leave me alone.

The video of the moons surface using the SPC900 was not great as the VLounge software kept setting itself to 15fps, which I don’t think is high enough, as the video did seem to judder occasionaly, unless the 15fps was too high and the laptop could not handle the recording, but I am sure I set the Quickcam to video at a faster frames per second than 15 and that was ok. So I only have stills to show you.

Anyway, below are some shots of the moon I managed to get with the DSLR.

Moon taken with the Canon 400D using prime focus with barlow 2x lens

There was a lot of trial and error with taking the photos, most of the time I used a 2x barlow on the end of the camera adaptor or put an eyepiece inside the camera adaptor. Where the moon is shown whole – these were taken with no magnification at all (prime focus) just with the camera attached to the telescope.

Moon taken with Canon 400D at prime focus

I have also made up a collage of shots below, to make one large shot, click on the image below to see the full shot.

Patchwork of moon shots taken with the Canon 400D

My wife also sneaked out and took a photo of me and my set up.

Backyard Astronomy

Shooting the night sky with my Canon

The second clear night in a row – was this possible? Tonight (19th July 2007) I decided not to take out the telescope but just take out my new Canon 400D and my remote control and tripod.

I had ideas of trying out the Bulb setting which everyone talks about and trying out some photography from a static tripod using the remote control that I purchase from eBay – actually the tripod was from eBay as well!

Anyway, I put my camera onto manual and then the bulb setting and this time remembered to put the lens onto MF – (manual focus). I then directed my camera at the heavens and took some photos at varying exposure times.

I kept darting back into the house to view the photos on my laptop under red light provided by my red torch to see how well I was doing.

The problem I had looking back was that I did not keep an exact record of what exposure times I was using etc. I must remember to takes notes next time on the settings used and exposures used etc.

Anyway below are the best three photographs I managed to make. I did play with the photos a little in Fireworks, but it appears that most people use PhotoShop instead, so I need to really look at using this, especially because it has a lot of extra plugins available, including astronomy plugins.

Milky Way 19th July 2007

My overprocessed mess of an already out of focus shot Ursa Major, The Plough

My Nights Viewing on 18-07-07

At last after what seems forever there was a clear night on the 18th July. The only problem was that because it had been raining earlier in the day the dew level was amazing.

The telescope was absolutely soaking, and I was more worried for my laptop and new Canon 400D – but I had to make the most of the clear skies.

I played about with the Canon 400D and tried out my new T ring and adaptor, I started looking at Jupiter and inserted a 9mm K9 into the camera adaptor but the focus was not great, so I went back down to 15mm Plossl and took some photos, the best of which is below:
Jupiter with Canon 400D 15mm Plossl 130N
I still have a problem with getting blurry images, because my mount and telescope is not motor driven.

Then I tried to take some pictures of the heavens with the Bulb setting on my Canon camera on my other tripod, but everytime I tried to open the shutter for a set amount of time, but the camera just made a backward and forward noise and that was it, so I went into the garage and turned the light on and the Bulb function began working, I could not figure this out, so I asked a question on CloudyNights and I have found out that when outside in the dark I need to change the lens on the camera to MF – Manual Focus instead of AF Auto Focus – which I had it on – never mind, you live and learn!

Finally I retreated off of the wet grass and onto the patio and went hunting for my first site of the Ring Nebulae. Well after star hopping and with help from Starry Night Pro, I managed to actually find it, I have no photo to show you, but I was amazed to have found it! It did not look as good as you sometimes see it in books, as my poor old 5″ 130N was not really up to the job, perhaps I need an LX90 and fast!

Philips SPC900 Webcam Arrived

Just a quick post to tell you all my Philips Webcam SPC900NC arrived today. It appears that all Pixmania products are shipped from France. Anyway I have managed to take the webccam apart and screw in the webcam adaptor, now I just need a cloud free night to give it a go and compare it against the Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000.

I shall also add a post on how I took apart the SPC900NC/00 and screwed in the adaptor, also about how the installation went on my laptop and where to get the latest drivers etc

Setting Circles – Good, Bad or Ugly?

As a very amateur astronomer I find it hard to locate objects in the sky, it could be me or my Meade Bresser 130N, but anyway, I tried polar aligning the telescope last night to Polaris and set the latitude to about 52 degrees, then reset the declination to 90 degress, or on my scopes mount 9 – is this right? I then set the RA to 0 – is this also correct??

I then chose a close star in Ursa Major (Plough) and moved the telescope using the dials on the mount to the correct RA and Dec as seen in Starry Night Pro, but on arriving at my star I found my telescope to be pointing in the wrong location, after manually correcting the telescope myself onto the star, I then looked down to the mounts RA and Dec settings to find that the Dec was correct but the RA was about 2hours out – well I think it was two hours as the main points on it are I think in hour segments and within those are 6 markings, which I imagine to be ten second markings. Maybe I was not correctly on Polaris in the first place – who knows!

It appears to me that the mount is ok for losely pointing you in the direction of the sky you need to be in, but the settings are so exactly shown in Starry Night Pro, but you just can’t get this sort of precision with these mounts. Agree / Disagree?

Has anyone else had fun setting up and using setting circles, can anyone give me advice on setting up and using them?

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