AstroVideo/Observation Report from Backyard 12/15/01
Finally, we got another clear night here in N.J. The sky was clear, it started out windy but it calmed down. Later, there was a haze to the North/North East but it kept its distance for the duration of the night.
I started early about 8:00 and went straight through till 2:00. Had one friend join me, Ro who came about midnight.
I started with Saturn, which was high and very clear and still. I wanted to videotape the conjunction with Saturn and the Moon a few weeks ago but was clouded out. This was a good chance to use the new digital video camera on the 12” scope, which I haven’t done yet. I put the camera on the manual slow motion piece that was attached to the tripod. This is a $35 dollar item from Orion that’s made for binocular viewing and very handy for AstroVideo. It’s not so easy to line the camera up with the eyepiece and find the item. The camera and eyepiece must be basically parallel, otherwise your just looking off to the side. After finding my first target in the cameras small video screen, I was amazed at the image I was getting. I had to focus the scope again and I used the manual focus on the camera. I also needed to adjust the exposure on the camera because Saturn was too bright. Once I got everything in focus, I was really impressed. The image was not as sharp as I would have liked but still outstanding. The color was amazing. The globe was very light tan at the top. Then it changed to a darker tan with a pretty sharp line. Near the bottom it got gradually even darker. The rings were yellowish silver. The Cassini division was clearly visible. The crape was also visible on the video screen. Now the Telescope is tracking but the camera is not so periodic adjustments are necessary. With the slow motion attachment, this was a snap. After a while you need to move the camera again and realign everything. You get a good 15 minutes before this needs to be done. I also moved the image in the Telescope with the extreme slow motion level on the LX200 hand control. I’m using a Hi 8 Sony digital video camera. After I’m finished, I Copy it down to an ordinary VHS tape and the quality is near perfect.
Next I tried to give the Orion Nebula a shot with the video camera. There was just a hint of the Nebula visible. But the Trapezium was right there. I used the zoom on the camera to get a nice large image with a real nice separation of the stars. The image field was a bit small. I had to scan to see the three stars in a line close to the Trapezium. I’ll try a bigger eyepiece next time. I used only the Teleview 22MM 68-degree field for all the videos. I just didn’t feel like trying other eyepieces, I was already trying an assortment of stuff as it was.
Since the Trapezium came out so well, I decide to try some double stars. My first target was my favorite double Gamma Andromeda. Outstanding! The Orange and Blue colors came out very nice. They were a little more colorful slightly out of focus. Nice and sharp with good color when in focus. I then pointed to 32 Eridanus which is a little closer separation (6.7”) than Gamma And. (9.6”). Fantastic! Very clean split with a good color also. This is a yellow and blue double about 5th and 6th magnitude. Of course I had the exposure all the way up for these. I’ll be doing more of this soon to see how close and dim the camera will pick up.
Of course the last video target was Jupiter.Amazing! Huge! As you zoom in, the image dulls. You turn up the exposure and it brightens again. I had a wonderful huge image. Slightly fuzzy, but amazing details. Several bands were visible. Dark spots in the EQ belt were visible and the Orange color was fantastic. The thin line of the Temperate belt was clear and steady above the EQ belt. Many other features were visible. The red spot was of course around the back. It works the same as the telescope. A larger image gives up some details because it’s a little fuzzy, the smaller image is sharper. But the smaller sharper image needs to have the exposure turned down a little or the details were lost in the glare. This made it look quite similar to the larger image. Note also that viewing this on a 35” TV screen also seemed to blur the image. You had to step back to really appreciate it.
Around 12:00 I was finished with the video taping. I filled one full tape with one hr. of video. Ro showed up at this point and we started observing. NGC2392 the “Eskimo Nebula” was outstanding. Very bright center with a huge haze around it coming to a sharp finish. The haze has a grainy look. Lots of details going on in there. I’ll have to take a good long look at this guy soon with the filter and higher magnification. Love that item. M35, M36, M37 & M38 were all beautiful as usual. We looked at many Galaxies in UM., And. & Leo. When I look at some of these Galaxies in UM. I can’t help but wonder how Messier missed them. M109 & M108 are just barely visible in my 12”. How did he see these? And how did he miss NGC2683 The “UFO” Galaxy, NGC2841 a stunning edge on with a real fat center or NGC3310 a big round spot with exquisite details. These are all right in the same area. He had to be looking there. Anyway, those are always some of my favorite questions, How did Messier miss it, how did he see it, and why didn’t he include it, he must have seen it.
One of my favorite Galaxy pairs in Leo is NGC3193/90. They are small around 11th magnitude but real sharp points on the edges of both of them. They look just like background galaxies in a Hubbell photo. Very bright centers to. Anyone looking in a scope for the first time would notice them. This is my favorite time of the year just starting. Between Leo, Virgo, UM etc. it’s Galaxy Season. There’s just too much to see. Hope we get plenty of real clear nights.
No night is complete if we don’t do a little new item hunting.
IC2149 – PN Aur. Mag. 11.0 dia 6”. Although small I spotted it right away. It looked like a fat star with a bluish tint.
NGC2346 PN Mon. mag 11.8 dia 60”, very nice item. Bright star center with a large smoky haze around it.
NGC2371/72 Double PN Gem. Mag 13.0 dia 54”. Real nice stuff. Looked like 2 planetaries on top of each other. Could be mistaken for one item but it’s definitely 2. I’ll have to look up a picture of this thing. Should be real cool.
Well that was it for good night. The item of the night visually was the galaxy pair NGC3193/90. Don’t miss that one (or 2). In the video camera, Saturn was a thrill, felt like I just saw it for the time.