A View from My Scope – October 11th – Observation Report
11 October 2013
This morning was the first time in a long time that I had a chance to take the telescope out and get some real good stargazing done.
Although I had work this morning, I got an early start and got up at 4.30am. The target this morning was Jupiter. I had recently purchased a Philip SPC900 webcam and I was keen to see how it perform. As well as the webcam I also purchased a Revelation 5x Barlow earlier in the year and this would be the first proper opportunity I had to use it.
I had recently spent considerable time collimating my telescope after discovering, I was doing it wrong all last year. Although I think it is still not quite right, I was pleased with the results
I have aÂ new rule for this observing season: Stick to one Target
Meaning donâ€™t try and do too much in one observing and imaging session, pick a target and get some good footage / images of it. Then spend some time observing
It was an incredibly clear sky this morning, with next to no wind. Ideal conditions for imaging. However my dark skies time was limited as dawn was approaching.
The time restraints that I had this morning meant I did not do a polar alignment. I usually find this is easiest at dusk when you can make out the polar markings on the scope.
My main goal for this session was to image Jupiter so, I set up my laptop running Sharpcap with the Philips Webcam.
As it had been a while since I got any meaningful viewing in, I initially took it slow.
First I got my target lined up with the 25mm eyepiece. I was delighted to see how much detail I could make out, The 4 moons were clearly visible and I could make out the two main cloud bands.
I am not sure but I think the image was clearer than pre collimation, I was pleased with this as it meant my collimation was approaching being correct.
Although I did notice that the image might disappear a little early in the eyepiece, I think this means that my secondary mirror is not low enough in the tube.
Once I was happy that Jupiter was in the centre of my view, I swapped out the eyepiece for the Philips webcam. Once I had all lined up I had to play with a few settings on sharpcap to get an image (maxed out gain and exposure). I then centred the target on the laptop screen and went about focusing. It as this point that I noticed my lack of polar alignment, as Jupiter had moved a great deal and was almost out of my field of view in just a minute or two.
I was happy with the focus I had achieved and decided to try and get an image of Jupiter with its moons in the same shot.Â I took 2 minutes of footage with only the gain and exposure set correctly for Jupiter, then I took 2 minutes of footage with the image over exposed to help bring out the moons. My plan was to get two images and combine in post processing.
Jupiter and the 4 Galilean Moons
From there I upped magnification and put in a 2x barlow. I was pleased with the video footage I managed to obtain with this, focus looked good as did the saturation and contrast.
Jupiter with Europa, IO and Ganymede using a 2x barlow
Buoyed by the footage I got with the 2x barlow, I decided to have a go at 5x barlow. Immediately I could tell that I was pushing my telescope to the limit, but with a lot of effort and some manual guiding I was able to get some footage of Jupiter with reasonable quality.
There were times when I lost Jupiter in my FOV, even once I had to start all over again and start with a 25mm and move my way up from 2x to 5x barlows.
Jupiter with a 5x barlow (viewing Good)
Overall I was happy with the performance of the new kit, The Philips webcam in particular has a lot of options open up to it. I would like to do a head to head with the MS webcam some night.
The 5x barlow allowed a very close up image, but unless viewing is excellent I think it might just be to much. Might look at selling the 5x and get a 3x. This I think would give me the ideal cross between magnification and focus.
When operating at such high mags I will need to spend some time on polar alignment.
Observations â€“ Post Rule 1 (Stick to one Target)
Happy with the footage I got, I took a look and could see Orion nebula, I spent some time looking at it and back to my DSLR thinking â€œdo I have time to set all upâ€. I was glad I stuck to my rule as setting up for DSLR would have been too long. So I decided on some old fashioned observing.
I first pointed the telescope at the Orion Nebula and popped in a 25mm eyepiece. Even with the sun coming up I was clearly able to make out the nebula, I also tried it with a UHC filter, and for the first time using this filter I really noticed a change, it was an awful lot easier to make out the nebula and a hint of colour could even be seen.
I could easily see the trapezium (4 stars at the centre), I then decided to try the 6mm.
Again the 6mm showed great detail within the cloud and I could easily discern the outline of the nebula,
I the tried the UHC filter on the 6mm eyepiece but was not happy with the image it produced, so removed it again.
At this point it was really starting to get light, so one last target to have a look at was the Pleiades, These always look magnificent and did not disappoint again, Best viewed with the 25mm
It was now getting to bright to observe anything meaningful but out of curiosity i decided to check my polar alignment through the polar scope.
I was way out, so I did some adjustment to at least being my declination back in line.
My next session I plan on trying out some deep sky shots. I have not had an opportunity to use the auto-guiding system I built during the summer, so want to see how successful it is or not.
Just remember stick to the Rule. STICK TO ONE TARGET