The Moon and a Night at the Paddock – 09/01/2014
Last night was spent in the good company of my fellow members of the South East Kent Astronomical Society up at our observing site, in the hope of seeing the predicted Aurora from the recent solar flare event. Unfortunately, the night remained Auroraless, at least until we left at a vaguely sensible time due to it being a ‘school night’. However, I did use the night to do some serious testing on my laptop/EQMOD/SkySafari setup, and it passed with flying colours. I connected the iPad and laptop together via the ad hoc network, ran WiFiScope, connected and I was away!
Alignment was a snip, taking less than 5 minutes to do a 5-star alignment, resulting in absolutely perfect GoTos, even when meridian flips were involved. This is now my defacto setup in all cases. It’s so easy! Once I was set up, I decided to dedicate e the evening mostly to visual work. Unfortunately, the moon was very bright, so there were limited opportunities to glimpse deep sky targets, but the brightest, such has M42, the Orion Nebula, M35, M37 and others put on their normal display.
I decided to have a go at some full width moon shots, as the moon was looking glorious tonight. The air was very clear, meaning the contrast on the features was excellent, and ripe for imaging. The image here was a single shot taken with my Canon EOS 1100D at 1/400th second at ISO 200. It was taken through my 200mm Newtonian Reflector.
An attempt at imaging Jupiter with my Toucam Pro produced less in the way of results. Unfortunately, the wind was up a little last night, and the Newt acts like a sail, wobbling all over the place at the slightest breeze. I’ll have a go at the resulting video so me time in the next few days, but at the moment, I don’t hold out too much hope.
We decided to do some experimentation with the cameras taking shots of us at play too. It’s absolutely incredible what you can get with a 20sec exposure in just moonlight. Bear in mind this is a good 5 miles from the nearest major urban area, so is pretty dark!
All-in-all, a really good night of social observing. One of the best things about being a member of a society is the fact you get to share your crazy obsessions with like-minded people. Luckily, the like minded people I get to share it with are a great bunch! I’d encourage anyone interested in astronomy to get themselves along to a local astronomical society. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn, and what you’ll get the chance to join in with.