Last night was a clear night, and the first with a Moon that we have had in a while. It was a good opportunity for me to conduct some astrophotography experiments.
As I have explained in an earlier post, I have a CCD camera that is designed for telescopes, though it is best used with telescopes that have a longer focal length than my telescope. I am also experimenting with taking pictures through the eyepiece using a standard digital camera.
Moon20130215 This is a short video that was taken with the telescope CCD camera. You will have to click on the link to see it. It is a Windows Media Video. If you do not have a wmv codec, you may not be able to view it. The equipment used was my 4.5 inch Newtonian telescope, with the CCD camera in place of the eyepiece. That means there is no additional magnification beyond the base telescope itself. Attached to the CCD camera was a variable polarizing filter, set to its brightest setting. The video was taken at 6:09pm Eastern Time, so it was still a bit light out, with the sun low on the western horizon, which may account for the yellowish tint.
This was a still image take at 6:11pm Eastern Time using the same set up, except I had adjusted the variable polarizing filter to a medium dark setting.
This image was taken with my standard digital camera through the telescope. I had a 17mm eyepiece on the telescope, with the polarizing filter on the eyepiece, set to a medium level of darkness. With the 17mm eyepiece the telescope provides about 26x magnification. The faint blue haze is probably due to the ambient light of dusk, and that the lens of my digital camera is slightly larger than the telescope eyepiece. As such, the edges of the lens probably refracted some ambient light. This is something I can correct in the future by using a lens shield.
In some regards this may be a more telling image, in that it gives the sense of looking through the eyepiece, showing something more akin to what I see through the telescope. However, at this stage I am simply holding the digital camera up to the eyepiece. My shaky hands, along with bumping or vibrating the telescope, make the image a little blurry. That can be corrected in the future by using a mount that attaches digital cameras to a telescope.
This image was taken with the telescope CCD camera using a Barlow Lens. The Barlow Lens was place in the telescope’s eyepiece socket, the variable polarizing filter was attached to the CCD camera, which was then attached to the Barlow Lens. The variable polarizing was set to a medium darkness. The Barlow Lens effectively tripled the magnification of the base telescope prior to sending the image to the CCD camera.
I would have liked to have snapped the image a few seconds earlier, when more of the bright crescent was in view. I have not yet determined if there are any hotkey shortcuts for the CCD camera. As such, I have to do a bit of clicking to snap a single image. In those few seconds, the Moon had already moved. Things move fast at higher magnification.
The experimentation will continue the next time the skies allow it. Right now we are experiencing a bit of rain and snow, so who knows when I will get that chance.