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Mark and Nigel Stronge Astrophotography

April 2003

John McConnell, EAAS Chairman, asked us to photograph the crater Lindsay at the last EAAS meeting, so the next clear, moonlit night we had a go. Conditions were average, but you take what you get in Ireland. We imaged Lindsay, Ptolemaeus and a single full frame image of the 10 day old waxing moon, at 79.6% illumination.

Lindsay 7K
Click here for full size image

The LINDSAY crater on the moon was named to honour the work of the late Dr Eric Mervyn Lindsay (1907 - 1974), and was approved by the Executive Committee of the International Astronomical Union in August 1977. It is located on the near side midway between Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Nubium and is about 33km in diameter. The position is latitude 07.0° S, longitude 13.3° E, in a heavily cratered highland area. LINDSAY was formerly known as DOLLAND C, and according to the late Dr E.J.Öpik, was possibly created by the impact of an asteroid 1.6km or 1 mile in diameter. It is the smaller of the two craters in the centre of the image. The landing site of APOLLO 16 is about 100km SW of LINDSAY on the bottom edge of the image near the white spot, which is South Ray Crater.

Dr Lindsay was Director of the Armagh Observatory from 1937 until his sudden death from a heart attack in July 1974, and was a second cousin of the current EAAS Chairman.

Imaged using a 10 inch SCT Meade LX-200 Classic at f20, Philips Toucam Pro with a 2x barlow. Video recorded at 5fps 640x480 and stacked in Registax, final image processing in Paint Shop Pro.

Ptolemaeus 8K
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This is one of the most beautiful groups of craters on the entire moon! PTOLEMÆUS, ALPHONSUS and ARZACHEL are to be found almost at the centre of the visible hemisphere, and are very prominent close to either First or Last Quarter. PTOLEMÆUS is the largest measuring 164km from rim to rim. ALPHONSUS is 108km across while ARZACHEL is 96km. The later is deep with walls rising to 13,500 feet on the west, with the floor depressed by 3,000 feet below the outer level. Next to PLOLEMÆUS at the northern end of the chain, is HERSCHEL, a deep crater with lofty terraced walls, while on the floor of PLOLEMÆUS itself is a deep crater, LYOT that is called for the famous French astronomer who perfected the Solar Coronagraph. To the west is another large crater, ALBATEGNIUS, which is 114km across.

On the 24th March 1965, the American spacecraft Ranger IX crash-landed on the western floor of ALPHONSUS but not before it transmitted back some 5,800 images. The last images which were interrupted by the crash, showed objects as small as 300mm across!


Click here for a link to the full image

Full frame single image of the 10 day old waxing moon, at 79.6% illumination.
Taken using the 10inch SCT at f10 and a Minolta Dimage 7 with a Scopetronix MaxView 40mm Plossl eyepiece.


March 2003

The seeing conditions on the 12th March were quite good and this gave us our first chance to do some astro-imaging with our newly acquired Meade 10" LX200 Classic SCT.

The results are shown below.

Saturn 20K
Jupiter 26K
It seems that the moon has a more detremental effect to viewing Saturn than it does with Jupiter, though it could be that Saturn is getting too low in the sky now with it's transit of 18:29hrs.
Our best Jupiter yet.
Clavius - click here for full size.
Eratosthenes - click here for full size.
Plato - click here for full size.


February 2003

The weather conditions for astro-imaging are so important. We tried some more of Jupiter and Saturn to see if we could improve upon our previous efforts, but the air turbulence and humidity were not good. Imaging Jupiter seems to be more of a challenge than Saturn. The middle part of this month is Moon imaging time as the sky is too bright to do any more deep sky.

Imaging Jupiter has been difficult so we fine tuned the collmination. As you can see below, the benefits are clear.

After some fine tuning collimation on a star using the webcam in place, we came up with this photo of Jupiter. We limited our capture time to 2minutes as the rotation of Jupiter is very fast and could effect the stacking process. You can clearly see cloud details and the GRS.    

Moon Mosiac

To see the full res. moon mosaic, click here

Jupiter 17K
Image details are included in the full resolution mosaic. 12 images out of 114 were used to piece together this moon shot on the 8th day of lunation. We took this one of Jupiter on the same night as the moon. The moonlight effected viewing visually which caused a milkyness to the sky.


January 2003

Steady skies are now more important than ever and we found that out on Saturday 12th January. There was a huge halo around the moon but John asked us to try for Plato as it was at the terminator. We couldn't use a barlow, focusing was nearly impossible and the whole image was like looking underwater. Nevertheless, we imaged at lower magnifications and had quite pleasing results.

To see what the moon looked like on 7th January through our telescope click here - just for fun.

Wide Field Plato
Jupiter 4th Jan,2003
You have got a lovely shot of Plato with the long shadows coming from the mountain Pico on the mare just below Plato, which rises to about 8,000 feet. The Alpine Valley also shows well to the bottom right. Also nicely visible are the "ridges" on the mare forming a rough square. JC   Our image of Jupiter above taken on the 4th January with good seeing is certainly better than before, but there is room for improvement. You can just see the GRS coming into view on the lower edge of the planet.
Our best Saturn yet

M42 - the Orion Nebula

Click Here for a larger version of the image

Good seeing helped us cpature this image of Saturn and we are starting to see hints of the Enke division. This image was recently featured on the Metcheck astronomy page. This is our first attempt at deep sky. We purchased a MaxView40mm lens from Scopetronix which is specifically designed for larger aperture digital cameras like our Minolta Dimage 7. Tracking was not good as we are just learning how to get accurate polar alignment and the focusing wasn't good either. After using the MaxView40 during the day, we found out that we were not achieving optimum focus or minimum vignetting.


December 2002

We received our Philips TouCam Pro web camera (ordered from E-bay) and have found that it is very quick and easy to achieve good results with a minimal outlay. For more information on webcam astro-imaging, click here.

As our scope is a Schmitt Cassegrain, collimation is critical and over this month we have been adjusting and fine tuning the 3 knobs on the front of the SCT. If you think that your scope is collimated, then it isn't and you need to do it. As you can see from the images below, collimation has made a huge difference to our imaging. We are in the process of receiving an artificial star which will mean that we will be able to collimate without the hinderance of atmospheric conditions. One of the first things we got for the LX90 was a set of three collimation screws - these are thumb screws which remove the need of using an allen key anywhere near the corrector lens.

2nd Wide field moon  

The large crater near the centre of the image is called Schickard and is about 134 miles in diameter, one of the biggest on the moon, beside it is the lava filled plateau called Wargentin which is about 55 miles across and rising to 1400 feet about the outer surface! Schiller is the long crater near the bottom, it is 112 miles in length and 60 miles wide.

(Thanks to John McC for his in depth knowledge of the moon).

Saturn 7
  10th image of Saturn
Good image of Saturn taken December 5th with the 8" SCT LX90, 2x barlow, 500 frames recorded using a Philips TouCam Pro webcam using prime focus and then aligned, stacked and processed in Registax and adjusted colours in Paint Shop Pro.   Now, we are really getting into using the scope. After some excellent collimation work by Nigel, the scope's optics are showing what can be achieved. Seeing that night was quite good with little or no wind.


November 2002

Hi, Mark and Nigel Stronge here with our first effort at astrophotography. The telescope we use is a Meade LX90. This is a 8inch SCT equipped with Autostar. The photos were taken using eyepiece projection with a 2x Barlow and a 26mm Plossl using a Digi-T adapter from Scopetronix to mount a Minolta Dimage 7 digital camera. We were experimenting with various techniques of taking photos.  We are still experimenting to see what techniques give the best performance but so far the atmospheric conditions have been our hindrance. These were the first photos that we have tried to take with the telescope. We are finding it difficult to focus using eyepiece projection and we may also try using a webcam as suggested in October's "Sky At Night".


Saturn 2020-11-12
Jupiter 2020-11-12
1st image of moon
Our 1st Saturn photo above was taken using the Dimage 7 movie mode for 60 seconds and then the frames from this were stacked using Registax software.
Our very 1st Jupiter photo shown above was taken using 3 single exposures of f3.5 1/10sec and then stacked in Registax.
Again, this was taken using the Dimage 7 with 5 images stacked in Registax. Notice the vignetting due to the large lens size of the camera. The large crater near the center is Bullialdus.

Nigel and Mark with their sister Esther

Clear Skies
Mark and Nigel Stronge

If you have have any photos or video of the sky at night that you would like shown on the EAAS website please get in touch using the e-mail below:

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