Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Moon

I finished dinner and went out to power up at 1950. By then Venus was too low, so decided to do a PoleMaster alignment while wating for Jupiter to come out of the trees, and found that it was about 10-15’ off. My manual guiding workload was much lighter than my last time out. I also went to a bright star for an alignment, and while I was there I did collimation check. I knew it would be good because the scope has not been off of the mount, I just wanted get into a good collimation habit. I finished these preliminaries just as Jupiter was coming out of the trees.

Getting my bearings on Jupiter, I found that R looked better (sharper? More detail) than IR, so I chose R for my red channel, and I will also use that image for luminance. I started a 10 x 45s RGB runs with a low exposure duration (high frame rate/count), but stopped on the sixth run after I noticed a dust mote over Jupiter’s image. I moved Jupiter to a clean spot on the sensor and restarted this. This time I finished all ten runs. And finally, I did another set of 10 x 45s RGB runs with a lower gain and longer exposure duration. I look forward to comparing to see which approach produces better images.

I moved on to Saturn, and did two 10 x 45s runs, one using a short exposure duration and higher gain and the other using a lower gain and longer exposure duration.

I went back to Jupiter and imaged Ganymede with 4000 frames each in RGB. I also removed the PowerMate and took an image with Jupiter accompanied by Io, Callisto and Europa, all of which were on the same side of Jupiter.

I finished up with Jupiter at about 2300. I next took the PowerMate out of the path and then I pointed the telescope at Uranus just to get an idea where it was. Finding it way down in the trees, I left the telescope running and came back inside just after 2300.

It was pretty chilly during this session, but by no means cold. Everything  stayed pretty dry too. Seeing was about average – I would say 5/10.

I set an alarm for 0200, and managed to fully awaken and dressed up to go back outside. I wore a heavy coat this time. I found everything pretty wet, and it was almost cold. The seeing for the second session was about 6/10. Arriving at the telescope, I had to wipe the eyepiece dry, but I found Uranus in the eyepiece, almost in the right place to be visible in the FC display. But wait, it gets better. I flipped the mirror and there it was on the display. I was at prime, but I had slewed to Uranus almost three hours earlier. I fully expected to have a difficult time locating Uranus in the eyepiece and in the display.

I shot Uranus at prime, and then I put the PowerMate back in and shot it again. And inspired by my earlier shot of Jupiter and three of its moons, I turned the gain way up to see if I could see any of its moons. Four were clearly visible, so I shot those too.

I moved on to the Moon, which was very high in the sky as it approached the meridian. I got some pretty good shots of the rugged terrain on the southern limb/terminator, Littrow Valley (Apollo 17), Crater Tycho, Mons Hadley/Hadley Rille (Apollo 15), and some brightly rayed crater on the western limb that I’ll have to look up. The Moon shots were first at 2.5x and then I took the PowerMate back out. I noticed that I was running out of storage, so I switched FC over to my SD card.

I finished up the Moon at 0400 and came back inside. It was 50 degrees and I was tired.  

All of the equipment worked as it was supposed to, and I was able get though everything without difficulty.

I found that FireCapture writes to the SD card to be just as fast as to the SSD. I am going to get a couple of extra high capacity, high speed cards so that I will never worry about running out of storage again.


Moon – Crater Cauchy


© James R. Johnson, 2021.

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