Observing Session–July 26, 2018

Since another clear night, I wanted to try the ZWO camera with the Meade ETX.  There was a slight breeze which made it more comfortable and keep away the mosquitoes. 

I setup the power for the laptop and the DC adapter for the ETX.  I went to plug in the ZWO camera but it wasn’t detected by the laptop.  Then I remembered that I only installed SharpCap and forgot to install the camera drivers.  Simple fix.

I decided to try the moon since it wasn’t fully dark.  The moon was very large in the preview in SharpCap which was great.  The electronic focuser on the ETX was nice but never really got a crisp image of the Moon.  I would see the wavy appearance.  Not sure if the hot night or the fact I was at the driveway but still learning a lot.   I also realized I had forgotten all the settings for SharpCap.  I just set to auto and hoped.   I tried the Barlow too but it got way darker.  Not sure if I can fix in the SharpCap settings so something to try at a later time.

I then went to fine Saturn.  It was a very frustrating effort and took forever.  I realized the finderscope wasn’t aligned correctly.  I tried to compensate but swapping out different eyepiece but then realized that the higher magnification of the ZWO camera meant I needed to be perfect in the eyepiece before swapping with the camera.  A couple of time I got close but then realized the exposure setting on SharpCap might not be helping.  I had just set to auto.   Finally, I noticed a donut and thought maybe I wasn’t in focus.  But, we I focused, it move the telescope enough that Saturn moved.   I went through this back and forth for a long time until I finally got lucky and got an image of Saturn in SharpCap. I was able to manually move the telescope once I realized the slowest setting was too slow for the actual motion of Saturn.    I was able to get a few images but there would be no way to experiment with SharpCap settings.  I then realized I needed to have tracking turned on by the telescope and thus need to have aligned it.   It is all making sense and I guess trying makes you realize how much more you need to do.  But, again, learning a lot.

I decided to try Mars next.  It was slightly easier to get it into the SharpCap preview.   I played around with the gain setting and got it to be sort of red but realized never going to get anywhere without tracking so just called it a night.

All the images can be found on the wiki at https://clearskytonight.com/wiki/July_26,_2018.

ClearSkyTonight_mars_20180826_Capture_00110ClearSkyTonight_moon_20180826_Capture_00010ClearSkyTonight_saturn_20180826_Capture_00081

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Observing Session–July 25, 2018

It has been clear nights all this week so setup the Meade Lightbridge since Jupiter and Saturn are up at sunset and Mars would rise around 10:30 PM.  Forgot to check the moon but it was also already up.  I also decided to let the kids stay up late since so many targets to view.

Collimation went very easy.   It was still hot out have a 89 degree days.  Also for the first time noticed mosquitoes. 

The moon was too bright in the Lightbridge.  It left a shadow image in my eye.

Jupiter was similar to previous viewing sessions this summer.  The moons had moved to two on each side.

Saturn was awesome.  It was a little blurry but think I made out a ring division.  But, overall it was just wow and my best view of Saturn so far.

I waited a hour for Mars to rise above the trees on the horizon.  It was very big but still fuzzy.  I wasn’t sure if the dust storm on Mars so that it was just too low to the horizon.

Great session overall.

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Observing Session–July 2, 2018

The night was clear so figured I could try out the Meade Lightbridge 10” looking at Jupiter.  I still had to collimate but getting a lot faster.  All four moons were visible and in different positions.  Jupiter’s bands were definitely visible. 

I tried a number of eyepieces.  The low (26 mm) and mid (15 mm) were good but Jupiter was small.  The high (9.7 mm) was okay and I could still make out the bands.  I tried my highest power (5 mm) but it was too fuzzy.   I hadn’t given the telescope much time to cool down and didn’t check the weather conditions beforehand.   I am going to do some research into magnification.

I noticed Venus so took a look at it.  It was way to bright.

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Observing Session–Jupiter-20180607

The sky cleared again so setup the LX70 refractor to look at Jupiter.  This time was just going to be astrophotography.  I got the adapter for the LX70 and Canon setup.  Once I connected it to the Canon, I realized why there was only one cover since the cover would protect the camera sensor.

Since I didn’t have the finderscope on, it took a little trail-and-error to find Jupiter.  The focus was way off but got dialed in.  The Canon Live View worked good especially using the digital zoom.   I didn’t realize the exposure settings impacted the Live View.  I had to really decrease the shutter speed to get the color of Jupiter to appear.   The digital zoom helped with focusing.   But without tracking, Jupiter continued to move and thus had to move the telescope and never really got a good focus since Jupiter was moving so much.

However, the results were very disappointing.  I took a few pictures and on the Canon screen, Jupiter was very small.  I guess I really don’t understand the focal length configuration of the different telescope when connected to the Canon DSLR.  I guess I have only really tried taking photos of the moon through the ETX90.  Needs more testing.

I think the next step is to test some daytime images to learn the relative photo sizes and then learn more about focal length.  Since I will be testing during the daytime, I might as well try the ZWO camera and then compare the image results between the two cameras and all the telescopes.

So, went in but also dropped the mount retracting the legs.

I created a wiki entry of the Jupiter image.

ClearSkyTonight_20180607_jupiter

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Observing Session–Jupiter

The winter and spring had been cloudy or raining on the Saturday nights so hadn’t been able to make it out.  But, I did learn how to use a planetarium software called Stellarium which was very helpful to plan an observing attempt.  Additionally, I realized I should stop thinking only Saturday night would work for observing.  I think part of the issue with not making it out what that I only had one night to attempt.  So, changed my schedule to make weeknights my goal and Saturday night for relaxing.

So, this week looked to be clear.  I went out one night to confirm Jupiter’s location and with sunset being later and later each night, I realized I could go into the backyard to setup the telescope.  I decided to try the Meade LX70 refractor that I could for the past Christmas.

I started moving everything out once I was sure the skies would stay clear.  I decided to bring out all the eyepieces to try.  The LX70 mount was quite easy in manual configuration.  I decided not to bring the motor or do a polar alignment.  The counterweight worked great.   I realized that my landscape lights are actually quite bright after you have been outside for more then a brief moment.  I will have to think about some options.

Jupiter was very crisp in the low power eyepiece.  Since dark, I didn’t recall the size.  The mid power eyepiece was okay.  The high power started to get fuzzy and the highest power eyepiece was very fuzzy.  But, Jupiter’s bands were notice with all eyepieces.  I think this has been my first view Jupiter and really cool to see the cloud bands.  Three of the moons were also visible which was cool. 

I remembered that Venus was also visible so pointed that telescope at it.  It was just a bright blob.   I was already pretty satisfied from Jupiter so didn’t bother trying with Venus.

I was thinking for next time to try the Canon DSLR with the LX70.  I was also thinking that the Lightbridge might show more.  Last, I forget to reconnect the finderscope and setup the dual finderscope mount so should get that done.

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Observing Session–December 10, 2017

We had a series of clear nights so I decided to take the Meade LX70 Refractor out for its first light.  I was going to try to find the Andromeda Galaxy since I had noticed Cassiopeia overhead a couple of nights before. 

I setup the refractor and the first issue I had was getting it to point straight up.  I started to hit the tripod legs.  The next issue was I was looking in the wrong place.  I had used a reference in one of my books to do the star hopping to the Andromeda Galaxy but I got disoriented.  Once I figure out the region of the sky to be looking that solved by problem of the telescope hitting the tripod legs.  I also raised the telescope on it dovetail rail higher.

My next issue was using the finder scope.  I was very happy to have purchased the 90 degree model but still didn’t know where I should be looking.  So, I decided to just start over with the binoculars and find the galaxy first.  It took a while and a lot of misses but finally found the faint fuzzy.  With a more precise area of the sky to look at, I just scanned back and forth through the eyepiece and finally found it.

I tried a number of different eyepieces and the wide angle one was the best.  I was starting to get cold so really didn’t try of the eyepieces much more.  As I was picked things up and noticed that a lot of dew was starting to form.  First time experiencing dew.

Overall, it was both a good and bad experience.  But, I am still learning so that made the experience worth it.

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