It’s been so rainy and cloudy that I haven’t had the scope out since the first of the year. Today the clouds pretty much went away and I set up the scope. Because of the brightness of the Moon and the light wind, I decided to get images of just bright stuff. The first item on my list was Mercury which is the higher of the two planets visible in the west just after sunset. Mercury through the scope looked like it was a quarter moon shape, though it was hard to tell through all of its wavering in the atmosphere. It really doesn’t show up that well in this image either, but it’s nice to bag it when I can.
Next up was Venus. Venus is clearly a half-moon now and will shortly start showing a crescent. It’s much more interesting in the scope than Mercury because it’s higher in the sky so it wavers less and it’s much larger so its shape is much clearer.
Finally I started imaging the Moon which is very bright this evening. While getting the images for this picture, the wind started blowing fiercely and I began to worry about the stability of my scope so as soon as I finished the image, I took everything down. Hopefully tomorrow will be clear as well, but a lot less windy.
Gibbous Mercury on 1/24/08
Mercury was very bright in the western sky and set not long after the Sun. I was able to get the scope out in time to be able to shoot this image of the gibbous disk of the planet.
Later on, I also took this image of Mars, which turned out to not have very much detail, unfortunately.
Mars – slightly out of focus – on 1/24/08
Ultimately, while it was certainly very cold, it was the wind that finally made me go inside. It was too difficult to keep things in the viewfinder at high magnification. And it was very cold. So, so cold. Otherwise it was a nice night out.
Mercury on 1/20/08
Tonight was very, very clear and I was able to see Mercury visually shortly after sundown. I was able to get the telescope set up quickly enough to be able to take a quick shot. This one was with my 5X Barlow, which while it magnifies the target quite a bit also makes focusing very difficult. Because Mercury was on the horizon, it’s tough to get a good focus and since you’re looking through so much air, it’s also difficult to get a still image. It appeared to be a slightly gibbous disc in the scope and that’s pretty much what the camera captured. According to Starry Night software that’s pretty much what I should have seen.
I made sure the kids were able to see it and knew what it was. It was easy to see for almost an hour after sunset so if you have the chance, check it out over the next couple of days.