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Bengrant76

Last weekend

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Its been quiet on here of late, so I thought I would share my weekend's observing. I was at my parents in Lincolnshire so had easy access to some nice clear skies, which actually got dark enough to enable some actual astronomy on Saturday night. 

We sat outside as it got dark and fist into view was Venus, which is rapidly disappearing now after being so dominant for so long, through the 6 inch DIY Newtonian the near quarter phase was clearly visible despite the poor seeing due to its low altitude.  We then trained the scope on Jupiter, as it was disappearing behind some trees. we could see three of the Galileans.  After this, we had a drink and watched the stars appearing one by one, the summer triangle, Arcturus, the plough, polaris.. 

A little later on we moved to the driveway where the 8 inch light bucket was set up, and there was just enough of a gap between trees for Saturn, which was really clear, one of the best observiations of the ringed planet I have made in recent times. we could just about make out the cassini division and,  we thought, Titan. All the time Mars was glaring at us, like a baleful red eye, low to the souttheast.  we were waiting for the planet to get high enough to observe and image properly. below is a 15 sec exposure of the scene, with Saturn to right of the central tree, and Mars to the left... And a satellite to boot

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by now the milky way was beginning to show, so i amused myself with some widefield, unfortunately i had some focusing issues, below is the best of the bunch.. you can make out Brocchi's cluster top right. this is a 20 sec exposure at 800 ISO, stretched slightly to bring out the milky way. 

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by now it was getting late, nearly 1am, so Mars was as high as it was going to get, and was also threatening to disappear behind that tree.. so i set up the 5" mak with my trusty 600D attached, focused up and started catching as much AVI as possible. Using a 2x barlow, 5x digital zoom and some careful processing, I ended up with the following result:

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There is just a hint of detail, but not very clear. I don't know if this is because of the dust storms or my technique.. Visually, through the 8 inch, it looked remarkably similar, there was a hint of darkness in the centre of the planet and a brighter edge. we couldn't make out the polar ice cap.

After this we decided to pack up the scopes, time for a beer, binoculars and deckchair.. in the 40 minutes or so we were out, i saw a bright green perseid, about four more (one of which was going in the wrong direction to be a perseid, and some really nice views using the bins of the andromeda and triangulum galaxies, and the double cluster. oh how i have missed dark skies! 

Edited by Bengrant76
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