Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Astro Action Last Night

A good mate of mine and I spent a good, fun few hours at the local observing spot last night. I took my LX200, and he brought along his Celestron C6. Seeing conditions were 3/5, but as the big full moon rose around 9:30PM, DSOs were basically washed out of view.

I wanted to try for another Saturn shot, but try it away from the house for a change. I took the webcam and captured several .AVI files. I am still going through them but the picture on this blog post is one acquired from a 3,000 frame .AVI file (using the best 1,300 frames). This was taken using my friend's 2.5 Powermate barlow. It gave me a nicer, brighter image overall. Still, detail is so-so. I think this is because either:

a. Scope needs a more serious collimation
b. This is just the effect of alt-az tracking and field rotation (despite stacking)

Doing some further research, my money is on the collimation issue. I visited Thierry Legault's Collimation web site, and I can see quite clearly that my scope is out of collimation. See the examples below (images copyright Thierry Legault):

My image looks more like the out-of-collimation shot on the right. It should look more like the one on the left. So, back to collimation for my LX200...

Also of interest last night was our ability to witness a flyover by the ISS. Talk about bright! When I got home I checked out CalSky which put it's magnitude at -3.7! It was quite a sight.

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