High-Res Moon

Yesterday evening, during our astronomy club chat, I had my scope active to observe the moon. Fortunately, there have been quite stable air conditions. So I could record several craters, mostly located near the terminator for best shadows in the crater valleys 🙂

Image data:
Date: 2021-02-24 19:00 – 21:30 UTC
Location: Graz, Austria
Telescope: 256mm f/5 Newton with 2.5x Barlow
Camera: QHY462C
Moon: Phase: 32d / 92%
Moon-Diameter: 31m41s
Imaging scale: 0.19″/pixel – 1 pixel = approx. 350m on the surface of Moon
Filters: UV-IR Cut, 850nm IR Pass

Jupiter & Saturn conjunction (handheld with smartphone and pocket telescope)

Winter has just begun and the days as well as nights are already annoyingly full of clouds or high layers of fog. So there is no way to see stars or planets for days or weeks. This situation is especially annoying, if there is a special celestial event like the greatest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in years. Jupiter and Saturn were a mere 6 arc-minutes apart from each other on December 21.

On December 26 I did not expect anything better when beeing out a bit. Though this evening, clouds opened up for a couple of minutes to show Jupiter and Saturn very low above the horizon. Jupiter and Saturn had a angular separation of 33.5 arc-minutes.

I had my smartphone and a 50mm pocket telescope with 15-45x magnification at hand. Not much for high-res images. Even worse, I did not have a tripod or anything else to stabilize the hand held setup. Though I could capture the moment. And judging the shaky hand-held setup (telescope in one hand, leaning against a wall, smartphone in the other), it is really beautiful! Fortunately, I captured a burst of 40 frames, so that I could reduce noise significantly (see the raw and processed image below).
For this kind of setup I am really amazed, that the four big Jovian moons as well as a 7.78mag Star can be discerned (see labelled image)!

Acquisition details:
Telescope: no-name 50mm, 15x-45x extendable pocket telescope
Camera: Huawei P30 lite
Location: Graz, Austria
Time: 2020-12-26 16:12 UTC
40 frames (burst capture), manually aligned and stacked in Photoshop (neither PixInsight, Deep-Sky-Stacker nor AutoStakkert were able to align!)

Moon meets Venus

In the morning hours of October 14th, before dawn started to illuminate the sky, Moon and Venus were quite close next to each other. With a distance of 4 degrees and only 10% of the lunar surface illuminated, it was a beautiful sight!

Image captured with 200mm lens on tripod. No tracking. Minimal post processing with level adjustment and cropping.

Mars in opposition and (almost) all other planets

Finally, in the evening of 2020-10-08, there came a cloud free night with the moon rising not too early. Although the seeing conditions were not really faborable (high jet stream speed and rather bad layers), I had to go planet hunting.

Jupiter and Saturn were rather low, but still well placed from my home location. Mars was already well up in the sky when night fell. Inbetween there were Neptune and Uranus. Both of them not quite spectacular with persisting seeing conditions.
And finally I took a shot of the beautifully lit mountains on the Moon. The picture shows Montes Apenninus at the lower right, Montes Caucasus to the right (almost lost in the shadow) and Montes Alpes around Mare Imbrium. (North is up)

This time, I used my 10″ f/5 Newtonian with a 2.5x Barlow lens, to test oversampling capabilities. Well… The seeing conditions would rather call for no barlow at all, but I had to test the combo 🙂

All images are created from 4 separate, RGB+IR filtered video (SER) files with QHY183M camera. Each video consists of 500-10000 individual frames, from which 6-10% of the best were stacked.
The resulting resolution is 0.158 arc-seconds per pixel, which is a 3x oversampling of the 10″ scope (0.464 arc-seconds Dawes limit); Except the Moon, which is scaled to 33%

See the results processed AutoStakkert!3, Registax and Photoshop here:

Cratered Moon Cake for Space Birthday Party

Creating birthday cakes is a quite difficult task, when you want to impress the guests and the birthday boy all toghether by visual appearance and taste. The task gets even more challenging, when you dislike fondant icing…

This cake is a stack of 4 circles in different sizes of white almond cakes. The cakes are combined and frosted with a mascarpone-yoghurt cream with a bit of black food color for a touch of grey.

The craters are circles of white choccolate with grey food color (use food color soluble in choccolate, others will break the choccolate!). I simply scooped the choccolate on backing sheets to form circles with a bit of uneven surface.

Found my planetary camera and tested on Moon

As the nights are really short right now, I set up my scope at home and took a look at the moon. Seeing was not too good, but in moderate magnification, the moon still was pleasant to look at. So I thought, I did not shoot the Moon or the planets for a while. Why not give it a shot? I took my my planetary camera which was stored in their box for more than 2 years and set up for imaging…

For the “first” results, I am really pleased. Now I think I have to optimize and go for it again soon 🙂

Image properties:
102mm f7 APO, ASI120MM-S, RGB+IR Filters
Copernicus: 10% of approximately 5000 frames
Plato: 10% of approximately 11000 frames

Comets during full moon

After 2 weeks of thick cloud coverage, I had the chance to spend the evening at the observatory. Actually I jumped in to hold the guided tour this evening…
As there was almost full moon and some cloud coverage (which got steadily thinner) I played a bit around with the setup. I thought – deep sky at full moon is a waste of time. But how about the comets 46/P Wirtanen and 38/P Stephan-Oterma? How brigth are the comets still? Would they shine through the moon lit sky?
Well… I could not make out Stephen-Oterma. But Wirtanen was barely (in)visible. I had some other tasks to do, so I attached the camera to the scope and let it run to see, what may be gathered under these conditions.
Despite of the Moon and the corona of Moon, a little bit of the comets was still possible to process from 90 minutes of total exposure time each: