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Sunday 24th May, from 7:30pm BST, 200p F/5, EQ3-2, diy Onstep Goto.
I've enjoyed watching Venus wane to a thinner & thinner crescent recently, but have never observed Mercury. Having the 2 planets & the Moon only a few degrees apart this week was an opportunity not to be missed. But the gap between the trees & the hill to my West is only about 1 "fist" wide - maybe 40 minutes of observing time. And the late sunset time means Venus would have moved behind the hill before becoming naked-eye visible.
I don't have a permanent setup & can't see Polaris from my patio so I observe from a very rough "polar alignment" & have marked the tripod leg positions on the patio so I don't need to Polar, or Star align every session.
So, having made sure to "Park" the scope at the end of the previous night's session I could just plonk the setup on the marks, "Unpark", "Goto Venus" & lo and behold a tiny crescent Venus appeared about 1 degree from the centre of the the 9x50 Finder in a sky that was clear of cloud but still pure white from the solar glow ! Isn't Goto wonderful ?
Venus was such a beautiful thin 4% crescent with "horns" stretching to the meridian. At first it was shimmering but that must have been a heat plume because a tiny tweak of the focus steadied the image. The seeing was surprisingly good for the low altitude. I enjoyed the view at up to X250 (4mm TMB), before a Goto to Mercury.
Mercury was not visible in the Finder but was a tiny dot in the 32mm Plossl. At higher powers I saw it as a 45% crescent. I know it was about 62% illuminated so the sky must have been too bright for me to see its full extent. I don't claim to have seen any detail - the brightness just reduced steadily from the limb towards the terminator.
I still couldn't see the Moon naked eye so did another Goto & looked in the Finder. Nothing ! But the bright sky must have been fooling my eye because when I forced myself to focus at infinity it popped in sight. The visible crescent was about half the thickness of a crosshair ! In a 20mm Plossl I could see about 6 medium sized faint, ghostly craters along the limb of a 4% crescent.
So in about half an hour I had my first sight of Mercury, & seen my thinnest crescents of Venus & Luna. Isn't this hobby fantastic ? 😀
A two image sequence of Venus taken on 16/04/2020 and 24/04/2020. I plan on adding more images to capture the changing crescent. Telescope: SW Skymax 150 with a TelVue 2x Barlow lens. Camera: Canon 550D with a Baader Fringe Killer filter. Images taken on 640x480 movie crop mode at 60fps. ISO 200 exposure 1/100. Processing: Movies were centred and quality filtered using Pipp and then stacked with Registax. The Giff image was created using GIMP.
Stacked image of Venus taken on 16/04/2020. Image generated from 2000 640x480 frames taken at 60fps. Telescope: Skymax 150 Maksutov Telescope with a TeleView 2x barlow giving a focal length of about 3600mm Camera: Canon 550D in 640x480 center crop mode. ISO 800 and 1/800s exposure. Video converted and processed using Pipp and then Registax.
This is my first post in SGL and I must say I'm really excited about joining this wonderful community and I must thank you all for all the help and advice provided here.
I recently bought a Skywatcher Heritage 130 as my first scope. I have a couple of (weird) questions and I would really appreciate if you could answer them:
First of all, is there a correct way of handling this telescope (rotating and tilting) while looking at the sky? I'm asking this because sometimes I find myself grabbing it from the back of the tube where the screws are to tilt it, and I'm afraid this can move the adjusting screws and make me collimate the mirrors more frequently. Also is it OK to rotate it by grabbing the extension frame or can this also misalign the secondary mirror? Sorry for this questions but since the design of this scope is so "open" it got me thinking; The scope came with the locking screws really loose. When I say loose I mean that whenever I touch them accidentally they move a lot and when I move the scope from one place to another I can feel them shaking. Is this OK? I've been observing Venus quite a lot, but I find it really difficult to clearly see it's phases and disc without fuzziness. I'm observing from my balcony with clear skies but I live in a very light polluted area. Also I've been mainly observing it between 28º and 20º altitude (used Stellarium to get these values), except for one time when I tried to observe it before being completely dark and I was able to see it at ~38º altitude. This was actually the time where I could see the disc with more detail and very little fuzziness. Under these conditions is this normal or am I doing something wrong? During my observation sessions, I can occasionally see some objects moving fast on my field of view but I can follow them when using my 25mm eyepiece. They are like faint stars (some brighter than others) moving in a straight line trajectory. What could they be? Satellites? Is there any good source of satellite information so I can confirm these sightings when I have them? I will leave here my first photos of the moon taken a couple of weeks ago with the telescope using the 25mm and 10mm pieces that came with it, a lunar filter and my Nokia 7 plus (handheld). I know they suck but it was an achievement for me that made me really happy
Sorry for the long boring questions.
I am curious, as to what media or software you guys are using, in terms of knowing when certain alignments, conjunctions or events happen?
I actually had a clear sky, a couple of days ago, when the conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades happened, but I didn't know until the day after. I even thought: "what a nice clear sky, but naaah, the moon is way too bright tonight" (I mostly shoot galaxies these days).
So I am actually a bit bummed at missing that.
So, what good sources are you guys using? I am mostly using stellarium, reading a bit on the forum here, and looking into SkySafari Pro (will that give any clues?). Or is it simply by chance figuring it out 😅
Thanks in advance.