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By Victor Boesen
Yesterday I managed to climb out of bed at a little past 3:30AM to get my small portable rig out to a small nearby park and setup to observe Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. I got the Skywatcher Evostar 72ED DS-Pro last summer so I was especially excited to see how it would perform on Mars because of its red wavelengths which many small fracs often have trouble with handling.
At first it was partly cloudy but I persisted and was out and setup on the field at around 4AM. The sky was already surprisingly bright here in Denmark but Jupiter was shining bright and Saturn faintly visible almost right besides Jupiter. Fortunately for me it wasn't too cold, but I was happy I brought some gloves anyways;)
This picture was taken at 5AM while I was observing Mars.
I remember from last year that my scope didn't perform great on Jupiter for some reason, and the view of the gas giant wasn't anything different this time either. Using my 4.7mm ES 82 degree eyepiece not much detail visible except the two main bands and its moons. I would later return to Jupiter after the scope had cooled down a little and the view was perhaps a little sharper.
Pointing the scope at Saturn, which I was very satisfied with last year, I was amazed of the detail the small scope managed to squeeze out. It doesn't compare to the view I had last year with my 10" dob under great conditions at 255X but I was able to easily spot surface banding on the planet itself, and the Cassini division was also surprisingly stable. I really enjoy the stable and consistent view through the small refractor! I observed Saturn for quite a while until I eventually set out to try to find Mars. At this point I couldn't even see Saturn with the naked eye but I was fortunate that Saturn and Mars were approximately the same elevation above the horizon.
After a few sweeps across where I though Mars would be I finally located the small red speckle, this time with my 6.7mm eyepiece so I had a larger FOV. Switching to the 4.7mm, though still very small, I was surprised that I could pick up a dark surface marking across the disk on the lower southern half of the disk. Furthermore, the southern polar cap was really pronounced and you couldn't miss it. I watched Mars drift through the FOV until about 30 minutes after sunrise where the contrast between the planet and the sky became too low and the dew started to set on the lens element.
Using my small refractor for observing the planets I have always wanted to magnify things a little bit more, and I think the telescope would have no problem doing so. A Nagler zoom 3-6mm has been on my wish-list for a couple of years now, but the upcoming planet season really makes me want to find one second hand
Here's a video I've made that covers what I've written above with some footage I tried capturing through the eyepiece:
I hope everyone on here is still doing well despite the current situation!
This is a re-processed set of 159 images taken from a few years ago. Each image was generated from a 3 minute video. It shows Europa passing across the face of Jupiter casting it's shadow across the northern hemisphere. Telescope: Skymax 150 Maksutov with a TeleVue 2x Barlow lens and a Baader fringe killer filter. Camera: Canon 550D in 640x480 crop mode. ISO Auto at 1/60s exposure. Processing: Quality filtering and centring done using Pipp, stacking and wavelets processing done using Registax 6.
Lots of astro kit for sale! Payment via bank transfer or PayPal (buyer to pay fees). Reasonable offers considered.
1. Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro Outfit with auto focuser upgrade -- £350
Comes with diagonal, 28mm 2” eyepiece, 2" to 1.25" eyepiece adapter, dovetail, tube rings, SkyWatcher Auto Focuser, HitecAstro DC Focus Controller USB, metal case. Approx. cost new: £562. Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer to arrange for a courier. Note: doesn’t come with a finder / guider, but I have some available (listed below).
Main items similar to:
2. Sky-Watcher .85x Reducer/Flattener for ED80 -- £120 inc. recorded delivery to mainland UK
3. Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 PRO -- £300
Comes with diagonal, 28mm 2” eyepiece, and dovetail. Note: doesn’t come with a finder / guider, but I have some available (listed below). Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer can arrange for a courier.
It's an earlier version of this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-150-pro.html
Works well with items 7, 8, and 9.
4. Sky-Watcher 9x50 and QHY5 mono guidescope -- £150 inc. recorded delivery to mainland UK
Includes T thread adapter attaching the QHY5 to the finderscope. Also includes kit to convert into a regular optical finderscope.
5. Sky-Watcher 9x50 Finderscope -- £30 inc. delivery to mainland UK
6. Sky-Watcher EQ3 PRO mount -- £220
In pretty good condition, and includes the handset for full goto functionality. Unboxed. Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer can arrange for a courier.
It's an earlier version of this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq3-pro-synscan-goto.html
7. Astrozap Dew Heater Tape, 6" 'scope -- £30 inc. delivery to mainland UK
8. Astrozap Flexible Dew Shield for Skymax 150 -- £20 inc. delivery to mainland UK
9. StarSharp Bahtinov Focus Mask 150mm Maksutov -- £10 inc. delivery to mainland UK
Items 1 and 4:
Items 3, 5, 7:
This planetary grouping from 20th March around 5.30am shows Saturn to the left with conjunction of Jupiter above & Mars below, sharp eyed may also see... Io, Ganymede & Callisto in a string just right of Jupiter.
Image taken from Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire looking toward the SE.
Pentax K1 / Pentax 67 165mm lens / Exp. 2 secs @f8 / iso 200
Ioptron tracker at siderial.