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!)
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:
Last night I spent near my home town – a short 25 minutes drive – to a place I frequently used years back for astronomy. It is a quite dark spot, though the light pollution is still obvious. Nevertheless I tried to go for some deep sky objects, getting as much observation / camera time as possible in the short nights of June.
My list of objects was not too short. All of them were well placed in the sky and really nice to see :-). So here you go: 1) Hercules cluster M13 (Sony A99ii, 800mm f4, 2xTC, 27x120s, ISO3200) 2) Virgo galaxies M60, M87, M90, M100 (Sony A6000mod, 70-200mmf2.8 @ 200mm f4.5, 22x300s, ISO3200) 3) Virgo galaxy M90 – though I intended M87 😉 4) Whirlpool galaxy M51 (Sony A99ii, 800mm f4, 2xTC, 6x360s, ISO3200) 5) Andromeda galaxy M31 (Sony A6000mod, 70-200mm f2.8 @ 200mm f4.5, 5x30s, ISO3200) – I made an error in exposure time, so instead of 5×300 I ended up with 5x30s 🙁 6) Jupiter (I did not pack my planetary imaging camera – so I used the same setup with Sony A99ii and 800mm scope at 1600mm) 7) Saturn (same as Jupiter)
And far too late (at 01:30) I set up my timelapse camera for a night-to-day movie. The milkyway was beautifully placed just above the pasture. The resulting video clip is below.
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