Last night the clouds cleared out by about 9pm and Rebecca and I had a spectacular view of the lunar eclipse from the back deck. Our friends Pete and Carol joined us along with our neighbor Katie. It was really nice to share the event with friends and be able to step inside to warm up periodically.
Normally, I think the full moon is the least exciting moon to look at in a telescope because it looks completely flat. When there’s some shadow, you can really see the surface details. The eclipse is something totally different though. The colors are amazing and what I found particularly interesting was how it seemed to become a sphere again once it was completely in shadow. Especially in the binoculars, it looked like a little ball that you could just reach out and grab. Another nice surprise was being able to see stars near the moon. Normally they’re completely washed out. You can see one at the lower left in this photo.
I was worried that the moon was going to be too high in the sky and my telescope wouldn’t be able to track it because the eyepiece or camera would run into the mount but it turned out that I had just enough clearance to get 30+ minutes into totality. That gave us plenty of time to observe and swap the eyepiece out for the camera to get some photos. This was a 1 second exposure with a 1600 iso taken with my Lumix GX85 connected to my Celestron SE 8 and an f/6.3 focal reducer.
A couple of weeks ago we took a vacation out in the redwoods of Sonoma county, CA. I grabbed a couple of nice shots of the milky way one night. It’s amazing how many more stars you can see at night when you’re not in a light polluted downtown. Below is a 100% crop of shot from my house (left) which is a class 8 sky and one from Cazadero (right), a class 3 sky.
It was a fairly clear night so I tried to take a few more photos from with my camera attached to the top of my telescope. This is a 13 second exposure of Mars (brightest object on the lower left) and Saturn (towards the upper right). Click though to see the full sized image to see some other cool objects. The M7 star cluster can be see way over on the right edge about even with Mars. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, can be seen to the lower right of Saturn. It looks like a line of stars pointing slightly upward (left to right). What’s amazing to me is that from here you can’t see a tenth of these stars with your naked eyes.
We’ve had some clear weather lately and I’ve had a chance to take a couple of photos with my telescope. First, I got an attachment that allow my camera to ride piggyback on the tube. This let’s me shoot a super wide field that still tracks the sky. So here’s a shot of Orion.
And then the other night, Jupiter’s red spot was visible so I grabbed a quick shot of it.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get out to a dark site this summer and take some more photos.
Last night was my first time looking at the Orion Nebula with my telescope. I was surprised at how easily you can see it even with all the light pollution and a bright moon. This is just a one second exposure. Maybe if I can figure out my new camera I can get a better shot.