Every amateur astronomer knows that the clouds will roll in as the delivery man’s van leaves your front door. This happened to me again these last two weeks.
I treated myself to a new ZWO ASI224MC camera with a Canon lens adapter, all purchased online from Bintel. Very small and compact and it is intended to help me with my polar alignment, guiding and some planetary imaging. It’s main advantage is its very low read noise which means that you can take many short images and add the individual image frames in post processing to form a longer duration image without adding significant noise in the process. I’m not planning any huge expansion into planetary astrophotography but it would be nice to have something to do when the moon is up and I cannot do long exposure, deep sky stuff.
Last night was clear with the Moon and Jupiter right overhead and I started everything up; EQ6-R mount with the ZWO ASI224MC camera on a Canon 60mm EFS lens. For the software I used Sharpcap Pro, it will cost you 10 pounds annually to get the Pro version that lets you do polar alignment. This works very well and will work with any camera that is recognized by Sharpcap. Also read one of my previous posts about SparkoCam.
You just follow instructions and move the mount az and alt adjustments to get the polar axis of the mount perfectly on the celestial pole. No guessing or frustration and a perfect result. That’s worth more than 10 pounds!
My first attempts at using the ASI224MC camera with an Orion EON 80ED on the moon and Jupiter was not great, I have a lot of learning to do and I did not spend a lot of time trying. Just a quick picture of the moon…
I then took a number of images of the Milky Way with my modified Canon 600D with a Canon 60mm EFS lens directly on the mount and took a series of 60 images of (quite short) 30 seconds exposures at f3.2 and 400ASA as well as a number of dark frames of whatever was directly overhead at the time. It happened to be the center of our galaxy. As usual, combined with Deep Sky Stacker and processed with LR4. I was sitting inside on the sofa nice and warm, watching a movie while Magic Lantern was managing the camera outside in the cold. Did I mention that it was cold?
A total lunar eclipse occured on 8 October 2014 and I had it all visible from my front door. I did not plan on photographing the event but decided at the last moment that I had to give it a try as it was available from my garden. I used an Orion EON 80mm ED Apochromatic Refractor with a focal length of 500mm on a fixed tripod with a Canon 600D. In hindsight it would have been much better to use my tracker to keep the moon in the centre of the frame and to prevent blurring due to the moon’s movement in the longer exposures during totality. Oh well, live and learn.
A partial annular solar eclipse took place today and was visible from Australia. An annular eclipse takes place when the moon is further away from earth and it does not cover the complete solar disk, leaving a thin solar ring visible. In this case the moon cut deeply into the solar disk, obscuring about 61% of the sun’s surface in Adelaide.
The day started with heavy rain and thick clouds and it looked like we might miss the event. In the end the clouds thinned out and we had a great view. I observed the start of the eclipse from my home in the hills south of the city and later I raced down to Brighton beach hoping to photograph the eclipse during sunset. My luck ran out as a large cloud far away on the horizon obscured the eclipse at the last moment.
On a work trip to the Flinders I spent some time late one night in December to take few long exposures of ruins south of Hawker. The moon was at first quarter and was quite bright making it impossible to take long exposures of star fields.
This specific location is about 13km south of Hawker on the road to Quorn. The ruin is about 100m from the road and can be clearly seen when you drive by. I found out that late at night it is not so easy to locate…
The image below was taken with Canon 600D, Tokina 11-16mm lens at 11mm, f/2.8, 60 seconds at ISO-200. The Orion constellation is visible at the top left. The stars have trailed because I used a normal camera tripod and not a star tracker.
The image below was taken with Canon 600D, Tokina 11-16mm lens at 15mm, f/2.8, 15 seconds at ISO-400.