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.
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.
The eyepiece adapter arrived so decided to try again to see Saturn. The adapter worked fine and Saturn was bigger but still a little disappointing. I figured I should work on collimating next. But, the moon was out so looked at that. Wow, that was very cool to see it up close. I decided to try taking some photos using the iPhone through the eyepiece. Definitely need to do some more research but some images did come out. I posted them on the wiki under observing sessions.
For this observing session, I extended the tripod legs to make sure I wouldn’t have the issue with the finderscope being difficult to look through when the telescope was pointed vertically. The AutoStar alignment went the same but with a different second star. This time I had come prepared with a couple of targets. Earlier in the day, I had referred to the Left Turn at Orion book. This book was very useful because it listed targets for the time of year and seeing conditions. I like the book because it had sketches of what the target would look like in binoculars, a small 3“ telescope and a large Dobsonian telescope. The first target was the Great Globular Cluster (M13)
But, before I looked for M13, I remembered reading that Saturn was out earlier in the night. So, I put that into the AutoStar and off it slewed. It was near the horizon in the southwest. The moon was setting and had an orange tint. Saturn was hard to make out. I tried different eyepieces but nothing looked that good. But, then I remembered that object near the horizon would be unstable due to air conditions. So, I left it.
I entered M13 in the AutoStar and off it slewed. I had to do some moving around but the “faint fuzzy” did appear. Admittedly, it wasn’t a great view but I am happy to finally be seeing something in the ETX.
I next tried to find a galaxy listed in Left Turn at Orion but I didn’t have much luck. I was starting to think made the light pollution was having an effect but also the alignment didn’t seem to be correct. I would pick a star in the Big Dipper and it would be way off in the eyepiece and finderscope. So, I planned to spend more time on trying to get a better alignment the next night.