The skies – a natural wonder

The sky is a truly wonderful sight, our sparkling ceiling of glittering stars. Tamsin is fascinated by space and all that’s in it.

I guess her interest is helped partly by catching on with my interests but also helped along by Linda Chapman’s excellent ‘Stardust’ children’s story books, which she loves.

While I’m on the topic may I heartily recommend Linda Chapman’s other books, especially the ‘My Secret Unicorn’ series.

Anyway back to Astronomy, Tamsin’s interest in such things is very strong; so last week we went off to pick up a telescope to study the sky with.

It’s a middle of the road Celestron scope, a 6inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, and portable yet big enough when combined with our dark skies to give a decent view of the major celestial objects.

To get the most out of it, we’re planning to take up Astrophotography. We’ll use a T-adapter to attach my Canon DSLR cameras directly to the scope but we’re also going to attempt some afocal photography using the Canon G7 (got to find an adapter mount for that). In addition we’re using a Neximage CCD imager for video capture & stacking. I’d also love to convert an old webcam for deep sky imaging but all things in due course. Anyway enough of the technical stuff, what have we been doing with it?

Well the last week has given us a clear day and a few clearish evenings, with no moon to start off on, we’ve had to find different targets. The Sun (with Solar Filter) was fun but it’s fairly quiet at the moment, so not to many sun spots to observe. By night Saturn has been fantastic and the views that we’ve had after only a few hours, I am just blown away by. Finally, just last night, we turned our attention briefly to M42 in Orion, then the cloud rolled in; not before we’d had an appetising taster of what a nebula can look like. Tamsin was jumping up and down like a jack-in-a-box!

Here are three sample images that we’ve captured:

(Fig2 & Fig3 used a F6.3 reducer corrector, Fig2 was also through a 25mm Plössl eyepiece, Fig1 simply used the scope “as is”)

{Additional processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop}

Figure 1 – Saturn, CCD capture processed in registax

Figure 2 – The Trapezium (M42), handheld afocal with Canon G7

It was a cloudy night tonight, so I thought I’d make this post but its getting way too late now, after all I’ve got an observatory roof to build J soon.

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