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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Telescope and Camera image size test

I was doing some visual observing with my Meade LX70 refractor. I then tried connecting my Canon T3i and was disappointed with the results. I was looking at Jupiter and could make out some of the bands and the moon with the different eyepieces but the image was way too small on the image with the Canon. So, I did a test some tests. I tested all three of my telescopes (Meade ETX90EC, Meade LX70 refractor, Meade Lightbridge 10”) with my two cameras (Canon T3i and ZWO AS103MC).

The results are in this wiki article called “Image Size Test”.

The first thing that is interesting is of course the difference between the image with the 55 MM camera lens and any of the telescope images. But, the more critical comparison is between the telescopes themselves using the different cameras.

The ZWO camera results is significantly closer image than the Canon regardless of which telescope is used.

When comparing the ZWO images, I was surprised the ETX had a larger image even though it is a small diameter. I will need to do more research. The Lightbridge image is very puzzling. It is a significantly larger diameter and the image isn’t a similar order of magnitude bigger. In fact, the Lightbridge doesn’t look much bigger than the ETX.

Related to the Barlow, the image size is noticeably larger.

Though not related to this test, the blurry images are a problem but again the test was during the day going through a window.

To summarize, interesting results and will need another test using a night time object like the moon.

daylight test 55mmimage size test Capture_00005

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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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Afocal Astrophotography on LightBridge

The first step on astrophotography on the LightBridge was to attempt an afocal setup using a Canon PowerShot SD780 IS point-and-shot camera.  After the counterweight issue was resolved, the next issue was to get the camera into position using the Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount.  The SteadyPix was completely adjustable but also made it more confusing to get everything to align but finally I did. 

One problem was getting the image to look centered in the camera and also not have random spots displayed.  I zoomed in a little and that fixed the issue.

Once the image looked good, I experimented with camera settings.  I switched to the P mode manual option.  I then set the ISO to either 1600 or 800.  I changed the metering to “spot” but left it on Auto White Balance (AWB).  I set it to the highest resolution JPG files.  I turned off all flash settings.  Lastly, I set the self-timer to 2 seconds to avoid any motion after clicking the shutter.

I took some test shots of an electrical pole in the distance.  Overall, the images were fine though not as focused as looking through the eyepiece but the next step will be to try with astronomy objects.

Overall, the setup was fine but the SteadyPix was a little too complicated to get everything set.  I had to remove the camera a number of times to remove the SD card to check the results on my computer.  That wasn’t really the fault of the SteadyPix but made the overall configuration less than ideal. 

afocal_lightbridge_1afocal_lightbridge_2afocal_lightbridge_3

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Counterweight for LightBridge

When I started testing my point-and-shot camera doing afocal photography, I added an Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount.  However, when I pointed the LightBridge at a telephone pole in the distance for testing, the LightBridge tube was too top heavy.

I did some research and one common solution was to add some magnets.  Though it wasn’t as easy to purchase some magnets that also had some weight, I eventually found enough and they acted as a counter-balance.  It was nice in the end to have a number of smaller magnets because I could remove them if needed.  I also got some felt to prevent any scratching.

counterweight_lightbridge_1counterweight_lightbridge_2

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Observing Session-July 23, 2016

I was hoping to get a chance to try out the Lightbridge on Jupiter which was in the west sky.  But, a few clouds were always in the way and Jupiter would set below the horizon.  But, Saturday night was a clear sky.  I tried a couple of eyepieces and was amazed to actually be able to see some of the cloud bands on Jupiter.  This got me all excited that the Lightbridge finally amazed me.  I tried to get some photos through the eyepiece with my iPhone but it wouldn’t focus.  Oh well, more things to research.

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