About a year ago I started to think about getting a telescope, and I have finally acquired one. After considering alternatives and consulting with the dealer, I ended up with a SkyWatcher Explorer 150PDS. It is a 150 mm aperture and 750 mm focal length Newtonian reflector instead of an achromatic refractor that I had in mind initially. Along with the optical tube, I also ordered an 8-24 mm zoom ocular, a 2x Barlow lens, a moon filter and a collimation laser. Along with the included 28 mm LET ocular these give me magnifications between 26,8x and 187,5x.

Sky-Watcher 150PDS astrophotography reflector on an EQ3 mount with an aluminium tripod


I ordered the telescope from Teleskop Spezialisten because they proof and collimate the telescopes they sell. Indeed, it arrived perfectly collimated, I have not yet tried the collimation process myself. I had placed the order for the smaller 130 mm version, but due to delivery issues, I got the bigger tube at the same price.

While it feels a bit bulky, it is still fast to set up, and I can store easily it in the apartment. The only downside is that the weight is on the upper limit of the N-EQ3-2 mount. Unfortunately, the bigger EQ5 was beyond my budget.
Of course, the skies have been mostly overcast since I got the telescope, but there have been a couple of clear evenings on which I have been able to make the first observations.

Planets

I was able to observe Mars and Venus only during poor visibility. Mars was just a small blip, but Venus’ phase was clearly visible. In both cases, the vibrations were fairly annoying even with low magnification. It will be a while before Mars is again in opposition, but I hope to have better luck with Jupiter and Saturn when they are back in the field of view.

Deep Sky

Of the deep sky objects, I have only had luck with the Orion Nebula. On the first two observations, only the brightest part of the nebula was visible due to the Moon being in the sky. On the third time, the Moon was yet to rise and could see the curved regions extending from the centre. Everything was still pretty faint compared to the background sky, and I am probably going get a light pollution filter. The vibrations were not a problem up to 93,8x magnification. Which I also found to be to most comfortable magnification since the visible nebula filled most of the field of view. Unfortunately, I was not able to try out deep sky photography since I am yet to acquire tracking motors.

The Moon

From the observations so far the Moon has been to most satisfying. Even if not strictly necessary the moon filter made viewing a bit more comfortable. It found it easier to see details when the moon surface was not massively bright and removed the chromatic aberration of the Barlow lens. The filter is adjustable, and it was easy to find a good level of filtering.
With the Moon, I did not find the vibrations too annoying even with the maximum 187,5x magnification. I also took a couple of quick videos with my smartphone and the resulting processed images can be seen below. Both images were centred and cropped with PIPP, stacked with AutoStakkert! and edited with Polarr.

Waxing gibbous Moon
Copernicus impact crater

Overall I am satisfied with the telescope. The biggest issue so far is that using the finderscope is not very ergonomic. Also, the field of view from my balcony places some limits on the possible targets. For example, while Orion was well positioned; the Plajades were too high. Hopefully, enough interesting targets pass the through the view during the year.

13 x 1/500 s, 45 mm, f/2, ISO 1600
Binned, centered, and cropped in PIPP.
Stacked and processed with Affinity Photo.

To get a more detailed picture of the Moon, I tried taking a photo with my system camera through the binoculars. While this was indeed possible, it was difficult to align the camera correctly, and even then the resulting image was blurry. I had to use 3×3 binning in PIPP to get a sharp image.  The result is not much larger than an image from a smartphone and binoculars, but it shows a bit more detail.

 

 

I am past Sacaqawea Space Port in Skaudai CH-B d14-34 system now, which means half of the trip is done. It is starting to feel it was a stupid idea to try to get to Colonia. Just jumping from system to system is not really interesting gameplay and exploring the planets would slow me even more.

The journey continues. Do not ask how. Ask why.

All posts in the “To Colonia!” series:

[Elite Dangerous © 1984 – 2018 Frontier Developments Plc]

 

Trees for birds at Zoo Heidelberg

In response to Leanne Coles’s Photo Challenge 10 – Trees. You can find all my entries in the LCP Photo Challenge category.

The constellation of Scorpius on 30. June 2018
60 x 1 s, 45 mm, f/2.8, ISO 6400
Stacked with Sequator and processed in Affinity Photo.

A big issue with this photograph was the net, which is installed on our balcony to keep the birds from soiling it. With binoculars, it  poses no problem, but with a 45 mm lens with a considerably larger view, the net was clearly visible although out of focus. Stacking averaged out the horizontal bands, but the vertical bands remained.

I managed to salvage the image by performing frequency separation so that most of the detail went to the high-frequency layer. Then I reduced the luminance of the low-frequency layer until the bands were no longer visible.

I intended to photograph the constellation, and I did not expect to see any deep sky objects, but closer inspection showed that several globular clusters are actually visible in the image. They appear just as few pixels wide blotches but are a nice addition to the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In response to Leanne Coles’s Photo Challenge 4 – Trains. You can find all my entries in the LCP Photo Challenge category.

lcp_photo_challenge_water
In response to Leanne Coles’s Photo Challenge 3 – WATER. You can find all my entries in the LCP Photo Challenge category.

Jupiter and three of the moons (Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto) captured with a smartphone and binoculars. Io is too close to Jupiter to be visible. Also, the double star Alpha Librae (also known as Zubenelgenubi) is visible on the bottom right.

The journey to Colonia is taking much more time anticipated, but I have finally passed the Eudaemon Anchorage in Rohini system. It is the first station on the route, and I took advantage of the outfitting services to shed some weight from my Cobra.

All posts in the “To Colonia!” series:

[Elite Dangerous © 1984 – 2018 Frontier Developments Plc]