Sharp

Late waxing crescent moon, ISO 200, 1/30, 90mm Cassegrain
Late waxing crescent moon, ISO 200, 1/30, 90mm Cassegrain

I finally figured out how to focus my Canon while it’s attached to the telescope. Aimed at the moon and using live view, I hit the magnify button, just to see what it would do. Sure enough, the viewscreen showed a 10x image of some zoomed-in craters. (They were really bouncing around, since the table on our back deck is apparently made of Jello). I thought I’d take a photo of the craters once everything stopped moving. But when the shutter tripped, I got a regular ol’ view of the crescent moon. Certainly there had to be a reason for magnification on the live view. I Googled “Canon live view zoom in” on my phone and learned that the zoom feature is only for “ultra-tight focusing.”

Oh.

Of course, then I realized how crappy my moon photos have been up to now: washed out and blurry. Shooting at a lower ISO (100 to 200) took care of the first problem, and now using the telescope’s focusing knob while in zoom mode took care of the second. When I started taking photos again, they were much, much better than they’d ever been.

In fact, let’s do a little side by side action. On the left is a gibbous moon that I shot a few years ago. Not the worst photo ever, and in fact, it’s the best one I’d ever shot out of hundreds up to tonight. On the right is tonight’s version:

IMG_0320 (1)
…much sharper, better moon.
Crummy, washed out, blurry moon...
Crummy, washed out, blurry moon…
Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)—washed out view.
Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)—washed out view.
Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)—much better view.
Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)—much better view.

Not the best comparisons, because they’re in different phases. And I’ll admit that the ones on the right could be a little brighter, but I’m happy to have figured this out.

Alas, even with “this one weird trick,” my tiny scope and limited DSLR camera couldn’t do much with Jupiter:

Jupiter, 90mm Cassegrain, ISO 200, 1/15th.
Jupiter, 90mm Cassegrain, ISO 200, 1/15th.

No cloud bands, no Great Red Spot. And because the exposure times are so different, no Galilean satellites. Thus, my basic equipment and I have managed to reduce Jupiter, king of planets, ruler of 60 moons and slayer of comets… to a ball of snot.

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3 thoughts on “Sharp”

    1. It’s a Meade, 90mm, stripped down, bargain basement model. A guy I used to work with gave it to me, I think regifted from his dad who had passed away. Very happy to have it, but it’s not terribly powerful. Definitely a good entry level telescope for showing stuff to kids. I am ready to move on and invest in something more powerful.

      1. I never owned any Meade gear, but I’ve seen some of their high end refractors listed in a catalog. I think they were north of $3,000. What kind of telescope do you plan on getting next?

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