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My first pictures of the Moon through the telescope

November 20th, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 10,200 Views

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Tonight for the first time I tried to make pictures of the moon through my new telescope, Meade ETX-125AT.

Around 10:30pm I went outside, setup tripod and the telescope on it. Attached 26mm eyepiece to the eyepiece port. Attached Meade #64 T-adapter with T-ring for my Canon EOS 20D to the accessory port.

The pictures are here: and here: img_1457.JPG

As you can see, they are quite lousy. And the reason is that I’ve done everything wrong:

a) The night was cloudy, although I could see the moon clearly with the naked eye
b) By the time I took 2nd picture it began to fog in and the moon disappeared in the thick fog in less then 5 minutes, so I packed and left.
c) The exposure was too long, but I didn’t take a flashlight with me, so I didn’t see the settings and could not change them! That’s just stupid! I just set the camera to flash-less shooting mode, which gave me .8 second exposure.
d) I did not have remote shutter, and I was pressing the button. This is a waste of time! With magnification of some 75 times, touching the camera would shake it, which is the reason why the images are out of focus. But not as bad as I thought they would be. Instead of remote shutter release I used to use a simple trick to avoid camera shake: use the shutter timer. The only problem with it is that the moon moves across the sky so fast the extra 5-10 seconds make a big difference in composition. Also, the telescope is flimsy: after vertical tension screw is fixed the tube keeps moving for some time.

Lessons learned:
a) pick better weather day. It’s just silly to go out with a telescope when the fog is so thick I can’t see across the street. Although, in my defence, when I walked out there was no sign of fog and the moon was so bright I could see all the features, like mountains and craters through the 26mm eyepiece (total 75 time magnification)
b) use remote shutter or shutter delay
c) I am so excited that when Canon EOS 20D is connected to the accessory port of the telescope, I have full unobstructed view, so almost every photon that goes through the telescope’s tube ends up on the CCD. And it’s also very convenient because I see the same picture in the eyepiece and in the viewfinder of the camera. In fact the Moon is so big, it doesn’t entirely fits in the frame!
d) Since t-mount adapter and t-ring go into camera’s bayonet, the focus is adjusted on the telescope itself; the telescope becomes one big and powerful telephoto lens for the camera. Alternatively, you can use an adapter to mount a digital camera on the eyepiece. But it’s so narrow you will see your image in a circle surrounded by blackness.
e) take a flashlight with you, and make sure it is red or has a red filter so you don’t ruin your night vision; that being said the Moon is so bright you will see it clearly even if you set your telescope up in the middle of Times Square.

Summary: you will never get tired of looking at the Moon. The 10-15 minutes I was out before everything drowned in the thick fog were fun.

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