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Mars & Neptune Conjunction, Jupiter and the Moon

Discussion in 'Astrophotography and Imaging' started by Orion25, May 18, 2022.

Mars & Neptune Conjunction, Jupiter and the Moon

Started by Orion25 on May 18, 2022 at 6:16 PM

28 Replies 1114 Views 2 Likes

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  1. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Talking about dufus clutz stuff, when I went out Thursday everything didn't go as smoothly as it could have done. I set-up the Titchy on the AZ5. I'm all settled in my chair and ready. Then I notice a strange plastic disc on the lawn next to the tripod.

    dufus1.jpg

    I'm a bit puzzled by this. I couldn't figure where it came from. It turned out to be the soft plastic cover for the altitude clutch. As I wasn't sure if this plastic was merely cosmetic or indicative of something wrong with the mount head, I decided to swap the mount for my back-up AZ5.

    dufus2.jpg

    I walk up the garden with the first AZ5 mount head and fetch the spare. The altitude clutch cover on it is fine but there is now no cover on the azimuth of the spare. I'm pretty confused by now as it was perfect when I set it up the day before. I walk back to the house, again, and find the azimuth cover in the cupboard I keep the mount head in. It must have just dropped off. By this time I was certain that these plastic covers aren't actually that important. So I carried on with the session with the back-up AZ5. I've had the original AZ5 at least five years (it was bundled with my 127mm Mak). The back-up is newer. I just think it's bizarre that these plastic covers waited until Thursday morning to flip their collective lids lol. I contacted Synta and they say they are just cosmetic and can be glued back on. So I glued them back on. I suspect the Zeta Reticulans are behind this. I'll get even with the little grey bug-eyed bald *pillocks.

    721.jpg

    Totally pointless pictures of the 72ED with a Baader BBHS prism. :cool:

    722.jpg

    I might try to catch Mars with the 72ED next. Slightly bigger aperture although the glass isn't quite as good as the 60 EDF. It's pretty portable though. When Mars is a bit higher, later in the month, I'll give the 80ED DS Pro a session as well. No chance for any observing in the foreseeable future due to thunderstorms. And we know who is behind the dodgy weather, don't we?

    greys.jpg

    *pillock = British English derogatory term for mount vandalising Zeta Reticulans
     
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  2. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Still dodgy weather. I've been daylight testing the 80ED for high magnification on the Porta II/TL-130.

    tak.jpg

    I can use a 2" diagonal for rich field but anything 100x and over I'll use the extremely light Tak' 1.25" prism diagonal. That way there are less vibration return issues for magnifications between 160x to 240x. I can feel the Mars fever coming on lol.
     
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  3. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I had a third early morning session with the Titchy Sixty.

    thursday.jpg

    Saturn is definitely getting higher as I could catch it much earlier. I used an Orion zoom in combination with a 3x Altair amplifier. I thought the zoom might be easier than swapping out eyepieces with the 5x Powermate. I need to be right next to my western privacy fence to see the planets this low in the east so I'm a bit out of my comfort zone. I could get magnifications around 100x~150x. After a while I could see a bit of detail. Jupiter was a bit hazy at first although eventually I could make out the equatorial belts. Mars still has the white albedo feature in the north, and the phase seemed much clearer.

    lastyear.jpg

    Déjà vu all over again! The Titchy (above) almost exactly a year ago with the Altair 3x amplifier, zoom, the heavy dovetail and a Baader sital mirror diagonal. This year is a Mars year though. I've been preparing by streaming Mars themed movies. So far I've seen Capricorn One and John Carter.



    I don't care what anyone says, John Carter isn't total bollocks. OK, it's a bit bollocks. I'll overlook the fact that Burroughs stole the plot from Edwin Arnold.

    https://gutenberg.org/ebooks/604

    The big question is what shall I stream next? Total Recall seems like a fair bet. The question is: original or remake? lol
     
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  4. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    OK, I went for Brian de Palma's 'Mission to Mars' with Tim Robbins, Connie Nielsen and Gary Sneezy.



    Just how many times have you watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brian?

    schroter.jpg
    I was set up with the 72ED DS Pro at midnight on Saturday. The Moon was a tad bright and low but eventually set behind my roof so I couldn't see it. I did get some nice views of Schroter's Valley though at 105x. Seeing and transparency was average. Even with the bright Moon I had a decent enough deep sky session.

    graffias.jpg

    Mostly doubles with some globular clusters and open clusters. Graffias or Beta Scorpii are a beautiful double with a yellowish-orange primary and a lavender coloured secondary. I always like to see these even though they're low for me. The tip of the scorpion's claw is fairly easy to locate once you find Antares the 'rival of Mars'.

    sat.jpg

    I caught Saturn at a quarter past two and subsequently spent a good hour on it. I couldn't get a sharp image above 105x however.

    sat2.jpg

    Eventually, around 03:45 BST, Jupiter and Mars were visible. I could see some detail on Jupiter at 105x. For Mars I switched to a 2.5mm TMB clone for 168x.

    bbhsdiagonal.jpg

    I've been trialling a twistlock on the Baader 1.25" BBHS prism. I normally used a helical focuser with it. The red colour of Mars was really enhanced with this prism, as were red stars. The twistlock can make life less complicated than the helical with its three thumb screws. Especially if you have a physical disability.



    I could see the Martian phase and what is almost certainly the NPH again. I couldn't see any Martians though lol.
     
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  5. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    middle Small.jpeg

    Well, inevitably I got a larger scope out this morning. The 102mm SkyMax is pretty easily repositioned. I got out under the clouds at least an hour before I could see anything.

    middle2.jpeg

    The Rigel worked fine up until around 04:00 (BST) when it was too light to see the reticule. I then had to rely on an Orion 6x30 RACI in the 7 o'clock position. Finding stuff without a sight on a Mak' should be an Olympic sport.

    jupiter.jpeg

    I couldn't see Saturn for a while but Jupiter was unmissable in the dawn sky. I could see the GRS. Sharpest I could get was 134x with a Meade 9.7mm Plossl.

    monday.jpeg

    I pulled all the stops out for a butcher's hook at Mars with a 6.4mm Plossl. At 203x I could not only see the NPH, I could also see the bright white southern polar cap. The OTA was well cooled by now and I'm pretty sure I could also see a hint of some dark albedo features.

    mars.jpeg

    So I feel all funkytown ...



    ... but with better dancing.
     
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  6. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    sky.jpeg

    As the jet stream seems to have missed the English Midlands for a bit I went for another early dawn 102mm Mak' session.

    wed.jpeg

    I had much longer on Saturn and I could detect some orange-yellow colour on Titan. Jupiter was pretty clear considering. I used the SvBony 7-21mm zoom for both planets. No visible GRS this morning.

    6mm.jpeg

    The big question was whether I took out the SLV or TMB 6mm for Mars. The Vixen has orthoscopic-like contrast but only 45˚ of field.

    tmb.jpeg

    The TMB won due to its bigger field. I'll go with the SLV tomorrow (toss a coin, right lol). I'm not sure how much more I could see at 217x as opposed to 203x with the Meade Plossl, but the southern polar cap is still quite visible, as is the NPH. So I feel a bit like ...



    ... this.
     
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  7. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    You're getting in some great observing, Dave. Keep the reports coming. Can't get enough of them or NSG! :D
     
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  8. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Reggie. I hope to get out this morning. I'll keep you informed. I think I might be able to catch Saturn a bit earlier. Warm here, and we're due for a bit of a heatwave with 28˚ Celsius forecast on Friday. So I'm thinking of getting as much in as I can before the thunderstorms arrive! Out of nearly seventy sessions this year the 72ED has had twenty six. The 102mm SkyMax is in second place with eleven sessions. Third place goes to the ST80 with nine. Honourable mention for the 127mm SkyMax with seven.

    mm.jpg

    The 102mm Mak's doing well.
     
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  9. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    By 02:15 BST the 102mm SkyMax had been cooling for about 45 mins. Saturn was at around 12° altitude. I started at 105x with a 12.4mm Meade Plossl. The seeing was above average but transparency issues and the low altitude weren’t that conducive for clarity. I already had a Baader Neodymium in the nosepiece, so I added a Baader ‘Light Yellow’ to the eyepiece. At 495nm this filter virtually borders the colour green, so it’s ideal for Saturn. It helped immensely and I could eventually see Titan pretty clearly as well.

    sky.jpg

    By around 02:45 I got a pretty good view of Jupiter even though it was barely at 8°. I could just make out the GRS against the limb. The 495nm filter helped considerably. At approximately 03:06 I witnessed an Io eclipse. I could see all four Galilean moons until Io faded in a matter of minutes and then appeared to wink out of existence.

    see it.jpg
    Now you see it ...

    not see it.jpg
    ... now you don't.

    closeup.jpg

    Saturn had become engulfed in cloud so I re-positioned the scope to concentrate on Jupiter. Swapping to a Meade 9.7mm Plossl for 134x. I had a brief interlude observing the Petavius Rille on a very low Moon observation window of opportunity. Inevitably I turned my attention to Mars. I swapped the 9.7mm Meade/yellow filter combination for a 6mm Vixen SLV.

    raci.jpg

    Mars went the way of Saturn, oddly at the same time as Saturn re-emerged from the woolly sky porridge. I decided to stick with the SLV and was rewarded with an awe-inspiringly sharp Saturn at 217x. The Cassini Division and amount of surface detail totally surprised me. Saturn was now at about 22° altitude. Unsurprisingly Jupiter wasn’t so sharp at 217x. I can only really attribute this clarity to the higher altitude of Saturn. Although the seeing must have been well above average.

    mars.jpg

    By 04:15 I couldn’t actually see Mars with the naked eye and the Rigel reticule was basically invisible. After a sweep with the RACI I re-located Mars to get an equally amazingly sharp image. The phase was very obvious, the NPH was still visible and quite well defined. The southern polar cap was dazzlingly bright. What astounded me further though was that I could perceive a vague shape to the darker albedo features contrasting the red Martian surface. These were most probably around the areas of the Vallis Marineris, Terra Sirenum and Noachis Terra. I observed Mars until about 04:45 when it was at about 22° in altitude.

    So I feel this happy!

     

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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2022
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