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Short video of Saturn through the telescope

March 13th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 6,782 Views

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Just came home from work, and wanted to glance at Saturn through my Meade ETX-125AT telescope. Wow, I had never seen it so sharply – I could even make up the orange color of the planet. The planet is very far, and at that distance human eye can’t make out the color and the planet tends to appear in gray-scale, or B&W. It also appeared to be at a slightly different angle then when I saw it before. I may be wrong though: maybe it was visible better and crisper then before, so it appeared to be different. It seemed the distance between rings and the planet was bigger, so I assumed that the North pole of the planet was tilted more toward me, or the angle of the rings changed over time. I don’t know if that’s actually happening. Let me know.

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

Anyway, I ran for my camera, Canon EOS 20D and put it into rear port of the telescope. Set up the frame and… oh, no. The battery is dead! OK, no problem, let’s get a small camera, a 7.1MP Canon A620 point-and-shoot, and try to record the video. Attached the camera to the eyepiece. Dang, I need to work faster before the planet moves out of the view from my balcony! “Dinner is ready!”, I heard. “5 minutes!”, said I. By the time I installed the camera, the planet moved out of the telescope, so I took the remote and tried to point telescope to the planet again, using camera’s LCD screen to find it. Crap! I can’t find it. Gotta remove the camera from the eyepiece, find the planet, center it in the eyepiece and reattach the camera. OK, Saturn is centered, quickly attach the camera, try not to shake the scope too much or else the alignment will be ruined again. Great, I have the planet on the LCD. Rotate the focuser. The planet still looks small on LCD, try to zoom in. Ok, focus is set pretty well, start recording. Oh, no! At the total magnification ratio of 1900mm/26mm = 73, plus 4.5x zoom on the camera for a total magnification of 328 times! Problem is, now the camera feels 4.5 times more shaking, and the planet moves across the screen at 4 times the speed, so I have to use hand-box to pan the telescope to track the planet. Unfortunately, the speed to tracking far exceeded the speed of the planet movement (it doesn’t actually move, it’s just the Earth rotates) and I could not find it anymore. Time to pack up and have dinner.

Watch the video! It’s compressed, so some information is lost. The sharpest view of the planet is the first 10 seconds and 0:30 through 0:36. I kept messing with the focuser to make it sharper, but it’s hard to do by viewing a tiny planet on a tiny LCD which has a very low resolution. I am not entirely disappointed with results. This video is a lot of fun to watch in slow motion or frame by frame. So enjoy!

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