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Monday, November 28, 2011

Stargazing and Leonid meteor Shower 2011

It had been a while I bought a couple of telescopes but I had not used it outdoors yet. I had been using them only from my building terrace which is full of light pollution. I wanted to go out , at least with the small table top telescope. With encouragement from couple of my friends Srini and LSP we went to a nearby place where sky was relatively dark and one could see stars up to magnitude +4.5 (Naked eye limit in the darkest sky is about 6). This was just enough to see the the couple of stars (mu And and nu And) in Taurus which can be used to locate the M31 (Andromeda Galaxy, the only naked eye object outside our milky way ). We reached around 11pm on 17th Jan at the spot. I was expecting the moonrise at 12 midnight but to my surprise, the horizon was so low (we were at a higher place) that moon appeared at 11.30 itself. It was large and orange colored. We started setting up telescopes quickly to avoid moon light glare in sky. We only spotted very few objects as it was 1st session of this kind.

LSP immediately got busy shooting moon with his excellent photography skills and professional camera and lenses. Here is a 10 minutes exposure photo taken by him. All of us appear as faint shadows  as we kept moving around , in front of the camera

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960" caption="A long exposure photograph for 10 minutes. One can see our setup of telescopes and the rising moon in the background. I guess the trails in the top right are produced by the stars of the Orion constellation."][/caption]

We looked at Moon,  Jupiter , four of its moon , Orion Nebula , M45 through the telescope with various magnification e.g. 50X and 125X, 225X using various eyepiece. Everybody except me were lucky enough to see some meteors of annual leonid shower also. I managed to take some long exposure photos of Orion , Canis Major , Canis Minor , Persius Taurus and Cassiopea.



We also tried some afocal photography with highest magnification. LSP was successful in taking a very sharp picture of moon and its craters after several attempts.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960" caption="This is by far the closest I've seen of our Moon. Now count the craters there!! -LSP"][/caption]

Finally when constellation Leo rose  , we expected some more meteors but shining moon made lot of them invisible. Then the red planet Mars rose very close to Regulus (brightest star in Leo).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Orion StarMax 90mm Table top

My first telescope was a Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ which was quite big to carry. I recently bought another small one , Orion StarMx 90mm table top. Thanks to my friends for delivering it all the way from USA to my house. This is a portable telescope with 90 mm of aperture which  good enough to see bright nebulae. This has a Maksutov-Cassegrain design because of  which it has a high focal length of 1250mm even tough the size of the main tube is small .  It does not have a tripod but can be mounted on ordinary photo tripods. The mount is alt-azimuth, i.e it move horizontally and vertically. It comes with a battery powered LED red dot view finder without any magnification , which makes visible naked eye  objects easy to center even with low focal length eyepiece with high  magnification. On the other hand my old telescope had a cross hair based finder-scope with some magnification which sometimes makes it difficult to spot objects because low field of view without adding to the brightness. This telescope came with two eyepiece one with 25mm focal length ( 50X magnification )  and another with 10mm (125X magnification)

 



I tried to do some afocal-photography using the telescope and my digital camera and managed to take the following pictures, which turned out to be better than the ones from 5 inch Newtonian telescope.



Overall , the clarity was marginally better in this telescope as compared to the previous one for the bright objects like moon and Jupiter even tough it's aperture is  smaller. Also since this one is portable I can take this to nearby darker places for better viewing.