Thursday, July 24, 2014


Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 21, 2014 2200-0130hrs

Weather:  12 degrees Celsius, clear, no wind, some dew.  Excellent viewing conditions, but lots of bugs.  Could see M31 naked eye with averted vision.

Equipment:  8" LX200 Meade telescope, 19mm, 9mm and 4mm eyepieces.  CT3000 Planetary Imager, Canon 450D with 18-55mm lens.

Attendance:  Carla M, Andrea M, Becky M, and Myself.

Objective:  To view, image and show Mars and Saturn to our guests.  Saturn was in Libra.  Mars was in Virgo.

Report:  Aligned the scope on Spica, which was just below Mars.  Used Goto to direct telescope and it worked, even though Mars and Saturn could be easily located with the naked eye.  The goto was a little off, but it did get close to M8, M71 and M31.  Tracking worked very well.

The massive star Acturus was directly west during this observing session, above Mars.  It actually shows up in one of the images that shows Saturn and Mars together, looking west.  Here is an image of Acturus that shows how big it is compared with other stars, including our Sun.  This image was found on the website.

Started with Mars, which was low and almost due west by 2200hrs.  With the 4mm eyepiece, Mars showed as a large red disk with lighter and darker shades of red shimmering across the disk.  Took many images with planetary imager, as per conversation with Paul O and Mike P at the COW Star Party.  Employed their advice in producing and processing images.  The result was my best image yet of Mars.  Didn't have much luck in the processing part though.  Stacking helped but the wavelet option didn't do much.
Saturn was in Libra which was in the south west at observing time.  Used the Goto function of the telescope to center it.  Saturn was spectacular, it showed crisp detail on disk and rings which were at about a 20 degree angle to Earth.  One moon stood out clearly.  Becky, Andrea and Carla also viewed Saturn through the telescope and 9mm eyepiece and were amazed.  Becky and Andrea seen Saturn for the first time through a telescope.  Becky said she had no idea that you could see Saturn so big and clear in a telescope!  Took 347 images of Saturn with Planetary imager attached to telescope at prime focus.

After viewing Saturn, pointed out The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia to Becky and Andrea.  As we observed, many satellites flew by.  All heading either north to south or south to north.

After this, images of the sky around Sagittarius and Cassiopeia were taken both with the 450D and 18-55mm lens, and with the 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.  M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius and M31 were taken with telescope.  By this time, 0100hrs dew was a major factor.  The camera and lens had to be brought inside to dry off several times.  The image of M31 did not turn out well due to trouble focusing.

Many satellites were seen and a few faint shooting stars.

An out of focus image of M31.

M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius.  It was taken with Canon 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.

Mars, 140 images stacked.

Saturn, 347 images stacked.

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