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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 ? 😀
I am new in astronomy and got my SkyWatcher Star Discovery 150Pi WiFi AZ GoTo, however I am experiencing one big problem. When I try to align my telescope using SynScan Pro app on laptop or smartphone the telescope always points wrong direction. I do not have hand controller.
I set telescope north using compass, enter latitude and longitude, but when try to align 1 star or 2 stars, telescope spins way, way off. When the star is in the South East it shows north east, or sometimes points absolutely wrong direction. When it is set on the north and object is 98 degrees east it goes some 30 degrees. It also points lower or higher.
I am totally lost.
I use 8 AA batteries.
What I do wrong?
How to fix this?
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.