It’s been a while since I used my telescope, and with Jupiter, the Moon and Venus so near to each other in the evening sky, I thought it was time to dust it off. I was quite keen to get out and do some observing, so I set up the telescope before sunset, and made sure it was collimated. Thank goodness for laser collimators, as I got the scope collimated in 10 minutes, as opposed to the good half hour it used to take me.
Once the sky was dark enough to see the brighter stars I set up the scope, and had a look at the crescent moon. I always enjoy looking at the different phases of the moon, as there is always something interesting to see, particularly on the edge of the light and dark parts of the moon, when the details of the mountains and craters are most obvious. I turned the scope to Venus next, and enjoyed the view of its crescent phase as well.
For me, though, the highlight was the chance to see Jupiter. Jupiter is definitely one of my favourites to observe, and while I don’t have an eyepiece with enough magnification to see a lot of surface detail, the ever-changing positions of the Galilean moons is always rewarding. The other rewarding aspect of astronomy is seeing other people’s reactions when they see something for the first time.
Last night it was my wife and mother-in-law having their first experience. My wife has done a bit of observing with me, but she’s not had a chance to see Venus with a pronounced crescent phase, nor has she seen Jupiter. Both of them found the sight of the moon amazing, and loved Jupiter and Venus too. I still haven’t found anything to show my wife which will replace Saturn as her favourite thing to view, though.
As the evening darkened I decided to see if I could get a photo of the moon through the scope. After much messing around I managed to get my phone camera lined up with the eyepiece, and snapped a few shots. I was quite happy with the result, to be honest. They’re not the greatest shots, being blurred from my hand movements, but there’s still a nice amount of detail.
Clearly if I want to do more of this sort of thing I’ll need a way of attaching a camera to the scope. A bit of messing around this afternoon suggests it might be possible to rig up a mount strong enough to hold a small compact digital camera. While I won’t be photographing deep sky objects with such a set up, it will be more than enough to get some half decent shots of the moon, and maybe planets.