Observation Report 23/03/2014
Well it has been a long time, to long really. This winter was very bad in terms of cloud cover and any nights that seemed to be clear did not suit me. But as luck would have it I have tomorrow off work and the skies cleared lovely this evening.
Early in the day I decided I would do some stargazing so I had some work to do on my new laptop to ensure all the software I needed was up-to-date and working, I also did some maintenance work on the telescope to ensure cables an motors where working properly.
I cannot stress this point strongly enough, spend the time during the day to make sure you have all you need for a successful stargazing session. It is so frustrating to be messing about with laptops and equipment at night in the dark, all the while missing a lovely clear night.
Anyway I had the everything I needed set up before night fall which was great soÂ I used this time to do some polar alignment
I found this an awful lot easier to do at dusk, as through the polar scope you can see Polaris as well as the markings on the polar scope.
Observing & Planetary Imaging
It was around 8 o’clock at this stage and there was still some light in the sky, As Jupiter was shining brilliantly I decided to spend some time observing it.
Through the 25mm eyepiece Jupiter looked amazing and the four Galilean moons where shining brightly to its right.
I started pushing the magnification up a bit to see if I could see some detail on the surface, first by going to a 6mm eyepiece, then the 6mm with a 2.5 barlow and finally the 6mm with a 5x barlow. The last one was a bit to much.
I had read in Sky at Night magazine the month before that through a 6 inch telescope you should be able to see the Great Red Spot. I spent a while looking for it but could not see any sign of it.Â I just assumed it was on the other side of the planet. Â I could however make out multipleÂ cloud bands on the planet.
After this I moved onto some imaging and while doing this I could see the red spot on the screen, I was disappointed that I could not make it out visually. It has put a slight worry in the back of my mind that something is off with my scope. I will have to do some testing to make sure.
One thing I did notice was that while imaging Jupiter it was moving of screen very fast. I suspect this was because the scope was weighed down on the west side and due to the position of Jupiter in the sky meant that the scope was no where near balanced. Hopefully next time I could do some testing on this and compare the travel between the extremes of the scope on the mount.
The sky was starting to get dark now so I decided to see if I could spot some DSO objects, The first one I went for was the Beehive Cluster. I did get to view this but through the 25mm eyepiece it completely filled my field of view, A higher “mm” eyepiece might have helped here to see the entire cluster.
I had decided to try and capture this via the DSLR so went about setting that up. I felt that the camera would be able to capture a wider field of view so get the whole cluster in one shot. However while testing the clouds came in so I was not able to get anyÂ shots away.
It was great to get some viewing no matter how small, however I am getting a real itch to upgrade my scope to get more detail in my imaging. Also I broke my own rule of sticking to one thing per session, however I did get some good footage of Jupiter that I have yet to process. Hopefully more clear nights will come along, I would like to get some more testing done with my auto guide setup as well as balancing the scope.