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|John McConnell Astrophotography Page 6|
Prominent features are the crater chain of Ptolemaeus and Alphonsus (centre) with Tycho and Clavius (bottom). As the Last Quarter Moon rises in the early hours it is sometimes overlooked by astronomers who don't wait up, so this is a nice change from the usual First Quarter view!
The large sunspot group is 684.
This image shows Venus (top) and Jupiter (bottom). While some of the magazines suggested just how difficult Jupiter could be, I found it remarkably easy to spot. Venus is now starting to draw back towards the Sun and forms a nice conjunction with Jupiter on November 5 when the two are less than half a degree apart, another photo opportunity?
Taken on the 9 September 2021 at 04.15UT. This is one of the few images of Mercury I have secured, and probably the best so far. I have been trying out a Digimaster S320 camera, and for this image it was mounted on a tripod, set on auto and the timer used to cut vibration. The foreground is illuminated by the camera flash, which I forgot to turn off! This was one of the best elongations of Mercury in the morning for some time, as it rose in a fairly dark sky, and although it was an early start, I was satisfied with the result.
This whole Sun image was taken at 16.15UT on the 7 September 2004. It shows AR 667 (649) on its second rotation, diminished somewhat but still very beautiful. Notice the lovely ‘bridge’ of penumbra with the unexplained bright area at the centre. See the SOHO image for comparison. Again this is a hand held shot but with the stops brought back to compensate for the extra light even though a full aperture Thousand Oaks glass filter was used. I am not so confident of using a digital camera for solar imagery.
This close-up image was taken on 3/4 September at 23.30UT. The zoom on the camera was used to enlarge the image. Prominent features are Janssen on the terminator (lower right) just above and left Piccolomini and the Altai Mountains, above still the great bay of Fracastorius and the crater chain of Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina. The great ‘ray system’ of Tycho is visible to left.
Saturn and Venus had a ‘close’ conjunction on September 1 st of only 1.9º. This image was taken at about 05.00UT, just as the first light of dawn was appearing. If you look closely you can just make out the star Pollux above and left of the pair. The camera settings for this image were the same as the Mercury image above.
This image was taken on the 31 August 2021 at 22.30UT. The camera was hand held to a 26mm eyepiece on my 8½-inch Dobsonian and shows nicely the 7.3º libartion bringing features round the North Pole of the Moon into view. Notice how circular the Mare Crisium is lower right, and also the crater Plato at top. The large feature in shadow top right is Mare Humboldtianum while slightly lower is the crater Gauss. Notice also how close the craters Tycho and Grimaldi are to the lunar limb at left.
Venus at Noon
This started as an experiment to see if I could find Venus in daylight so soon after the transit. As it turned out finding Venus was the easy part, not so through the telescope. When I did manage to find it I was able to let the telescope drive on it for about an hour. I decided to try an image by hand holding the camera to the eyepiece, and the attached image is the result. Although the sky seemed very clear, with the atmospheric turbulents, Venus kept coming and going to the naked eye, one minute I could see it and the next I couldn’t. Nothing scientific but a satisfying result! Leaving aside the image with the camera, what was visible through the telescope was beautiful.
Although it is not astronomical it is still worth recording, as we don’t often see them from our location. We had just had a heavy shower and I was drawn to a nice rainbow in the East not realizing that something more interesting was going on behind me! I did though manage to get a couple of shots of the one Sun Dog that was visible in the Northwest, and it only lasted for about ten minutes and it was gone. Sun Dog’s can sometimes be brightly coloured, but in this case only the inner edge towards the Sun had a slight orange colour.
This image taken on April 25 th shows just how easy it is to get an image of the Moon. I used an Aiptex 4.0 Mega Pixel Pocket Cam 4000, which I bought recently for about £80! I hand held the camera to a 40mm Plössel eyepiece and took three shots only using my Meade ETX 90. I used the EV Compensation mode set to – 1.5 and the exposure set on Auto. I experimented a bit with this to get a suitable exposure. Not having the facility, I passed the images on to EAAS member Mark Stronge who then stacked two of the images (the third one was blurred!) in Registax and unsharp mask in Paint Shop Pro8.
It just goes to prove that you don't need to own big and expensive equipment to get a result, which while not in league with the experts, is pleasing none the less!
The three large craters near the terminator at centre are from top, Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina, while just above them on the terminator is the landing site of Apollo 11 on the south eastern shore of the Mare Tranquillitatis. The large crater near the bottom is Janssen, which is over 100 miles in diameter.