Winter Moon 2017

In the early part of last year I took the decision to remove all of the telescopes from the observatory and just take the one out that I would using.

Although this was really versatile and meant I could easily choose which type of observing/imaging to do (solar, planetary, deep sky) the telescopes always required up to an hour to cool to the ambient temperature in the observatory and would of course be covered in dew on both trips from and to the pier. Not good for their general maintenance.

Thinking back to why I bought the scopes I have I realised that the two most versatile scopes I had were the Teleskop Service 65mm astrograph and the Altair 115mm refractors. I can achieve all formats except Ha solar with them. 

I got them all set up in time to do some lunar imaging which is always a highlight this time of year.

The first imaging session was on the 5th of January. The imaging results were difficult to process as the "seeing" was very poor with the Moon looking like a penny at the bottom of a pool. However through the eyepiece of the 115mm refractor I got some really interesting views of the shadows cast to the floor of some of the larger craters. I could clearly see the jagged edge cast by the rim of the crater in one of them - that was pretty cool to see!

On the imaging front it was very clear most of the night but there was a lot of disturbance in the atmosphere that meant results weren't great.

This held true for the 9th of January but I still enjoyed processing them and reading about the features I was capturing on the Moon's surface.

First I was really happy to see the new permanently installed scopes were working far better than I had imagined. I was running three cameras on the mount.

ZWO ASI1600MM-Cool on the Teleskop Service 65mm
ZWO ASI120MC on the Altair 115mm
ZWO ASI120MC as an "all sky" camera (sky monitor)

Here's a picture of what each was seeing during the imaging session.

This was pretty cool :-) ...from the left is the 65mm, the sky monitor and then the 115mm with a 2xbarlow magnification. Obviously this doesn't serve much of an imaging purpose but it was fun to hook them all up and see what happened lol!

And so for the results. First is the full disc shot seen in the upper left following processing in the outstanding AVIStack2 program.

This image shows the position the moon was in, in the field of view of the 65mm when the 115mm was focused on the area to the far upper right. The next is the final process.

I was really happy with the way this turned out having imaged it with my deep sky camera (ASI1600MM) 

Any information I provide on them was found on Wiki (links provided) and Starry Night Pro 7.


Image 1 - area around Mare Vaporum and Sinus Medii

When I was observing the Moon earlier in the night I noticed the odd area of irregular terrain on the floor of Mare Vaporum - just northwest of the large rille running through it. I didn't remember seeing it before - I'm not sure what has caused it - and I've not been able to find any information on it - but I'll keep trying.

Notice too the long shadows cast among the peaks of the hills to the left.

Another feature of this image I liked was the seemingly windswept erosion on the far right, it almost looks like the sand when the tide has gone out too :-)

For reference the large crater with the collapsed perimeter wall is 58km across and 1.8km deep.

Finally, Surveyor 6, launched by the US in 1967 can be found in the smooth area, about a third of the way from the left at the bottom of the picture. This craft performed the first take off and landing on the Moon!


Image 2 Craters

Moving northeast of the image above I noticed these three craters called ArchimedesAutolycus and Aristillus (all good names for pets actually lol)

This is actually a combination of two images - the first, below has been enhanced to show more surface detail and the different shades found in this area.

Apollo 15 is parked just to the southwest of the smallest of the three craters in the foothills of Mons Hadley.

Image 3 - crater No Idea...:-)

I liked this view because of the imposing and somewhat foreboding feeling I got looking at the half illuminated wall of the enormous crater on the left. 
I tried to identify it but there isn't enough detail in the area - it was taken on the 5th so it could be quite a large number of craters that size in the area of the terminator on that day.

Image 4 - Sinus Iridum

I will never tire of imaging this region of the Moon :-) 
It appears to me a sort of harbour on the shores of Mare Imbrium (created by the collision with a proto-planet during the late heavy bombardment, and filled in with lava)

For all my fascination with this harbour it's the crater's to the north that I really enjoyed viewing - the Suns rays are casting excellent shadows throwing the whole area into detail - a perquisite for any good lunar image.

Two spacecraft are found in this area too - Surveyor 7 (US 1968) and Luna 17 (USSR 1970). Luna 17 is worth reading about.

Surveyor 7 landed on January 10th, 1968, almost exactly 49 years before this picture was taken :-)


Image 6 Crater Plato

This is my favourite image of the night as it has all sorts of different features to view. 

The large crater at the bottom of the image is crater Plato. The 17th century astronomer Hevelius called the floor of the crater the "Great Black Lake". The walls that surround this lava filled "lake" are 2km high! This gives some perspective to the surrounding terrain.

Notice the ray system around the large, filled in, crater Goldschmidt on the right - the one with another crater on top of it in its left rim - that one is called Anaxagoras - and that is where the ray system originated. The rays cover over 900km - all the way to crater Plato! 


Image 7 - The Moon and Orion

I thought I should attempt an image with the sky monitor camera and accidentally caught the constellation Orion lurking at the top of the image (look for the 3 stars of Orion's belt) :-)


I was closing up the observatory and thought I'd take a few shots with all the lights blazing something that is unheard of when doing anything but looking at the Moon:-) 

I sent the following pictures to AP as conclusive proof of alien visitations!


....bit of lens flare judging by the angles between the two pictures and the colour of that light in the observatory LOL!

....and finally while I was typing this blog ...I had company :-)