Camera Play – 2

So, last week… was it last week?

*Checks*

So, last week, I put my camera on my telescope and pointed it at the sky, and put up the pictures.

A few days later, I did the same thing, because Saturn was at opposition. I actually put my telescope on Henry and rode down to the school and set up on the field, since the planets were in the trees, as seen from the backyard.

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Now, a little bit of storytime:

Mom and I both love the sky. Many nights were spent staring up, looking at stars, satellites, meteor showers, comets, and even the northern lights when they stretched down to Arizona once.

A long long time ago, my mom and I got a little telescope from Big 5, and we set it up, and looked through it pretty often. I still have it. Neither of us knew how to use it well, as evidenced by the first time looking through it, what I thought were planets was actually poorly focused glares OF the planets.

Yeah, go me.

Living in an area with no nearby trees, we had a wide open view of the sky, so we set up fairly often, and I started to get… passable at using it. Figured out the focusing, zeroed in the finder scope, learned how to use the fancy dancy equatorial mount that it came with, and we saw some cool stuff. Jupiter and its moons, the crescent of Venus, some nebulae, and of course, the moon.

Two things always eluded me, though, the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, and Saturn. The Great Red Spot, because it always was facing away from Earth every time I set up, and Saturn because… well, Saturn is hard to see. So far away and all, and our scope was not exactly a high powered scope. I either couldn’t resolve it beyond a dim yellow dot in the eyepiece, if I could even locate it in the field of vision at all at higher magnification.

Finally, a few years ago, I saw Saturn and its rings, through that same telescope. I got lucky, Saturn happened to be at opposition, there was no wind, and I saw it. A tiny golden dot with a yellow ribbon around it. I was happy, but I was at the limits of that scope’s abilities.

Then I got better lenses. A new telescope and better mount. Learned how to better use them.

I think that brings us up to current… Oh right, pictures of planets!

I saw Saturn through a telescope for the second time ever! I even took a picture of it! (Well, several….)

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After staring at Saturn for a long while, I turned to Jupiter.

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On the lower left of the disk, at the end of the band? That’s the Great Red Spot! I managed to see two of my favorite sky sights in one night!

The pictures do neither justice. I can zero in the focus perfectly for my eyes, but the camera is a lot more difficult. A dual speed focuser will help, as would setting up the mount with tracking motors to do long exposures, but we’ll see if I keep doing this. As it is now, I’m just dabbling, and I enjoy just looking just as much as taking pictures.

I’ll be doing this again, though, Mars is at opposition on the 27th!

Camera Play

Yesterday I mentioned that it’s important to look up. Not just for hanging branches, or dive-bombing birds, or attack squirrels, but because there’s a lot of scenery up there, too.

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It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love taking pictures.  So much so, that I have a real camera with me in addition to my phone just about all the time. I don’t consider myself terribly good at it, just good enough that luck carries me the rest of the way to some good pictures. I don’t necessarily take pictures to remember scenes, I do it because I go a lot of places that people I know don’t go, and I like sharing.

As a result, I play a lot with my camera. I make it a point when I go out camping to spend some time just snapping random shots of what’s around me. When it gets dark, I’m usually spending time taking pictures of the sky. Moon, stars, planets, nothing’s safe from my lens. I’ve even caught a satellite or two.

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Tree, reaching for the Moon, as was my camera.

Astro photography is something I’ve always wanted to dip my toes into. I’ve got a good telescope and mount for it, so why not? I got a cheap t-ring for the camera, and set up in the backyard Sunday night.

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The Moon
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It almost looks like something out of a book!
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Jupiter! And if you look close, you can see four moons!

What do you think? I’d say it went rather well, for my first shot at it. Next time I’ll play with filters.

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.
— Stephen Hawking, 1942–2018