The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Photography of heavenly bodies

Last month The Kids received a telescope from their father. I helped The Kids to set it up (read: I put it together) and use it to view the moon and what I think was Jupiter. It's too nice to let them keep it in their room, so it currently lives in our room.

Late Sunday night, I was talking with my friend Ken D, who just received his Ph.D. in physics from FAU and currently teaches an astronomy class and he pointed out that the bright star south west of the moon was most likely Saturn, so when I got home, I decided to break out the telescope and do a bit of viewing.

Or rather, an attempt at stellar photography. Or would that be, planetary photography?

Anyway, I set up the telescope (which has a computerized controller which makes fine adjustments quite nice) and then attempted to use my digital camera to take pictures, first of the moon.

Considering I have no camera mount for the telescope, I think I managed to get some decent photographs of the moon through the telescope. Not an easy task to line up the camera optics with the telescope optics and take a picture without the image becoming hopelessly blurry. Even with a tripod it was difficult since the moon was so high up that the camera would just barely reach the eyepiece if I tipped the camera tripod up on two feet—in retrospect, I should have lowered the telescope, but hey, it was a learning experience.

I spent so much time with the moon that by the time I got around to Saturn it was just above a strand of trees and setting fast. At least, I think it was Saturn—it was a planet (since I could make out a distinct disk) but the rings were very hard to see, if in fact they were rings and not a form of spherical abberation due to the telescope optics. Twice I moved the telescope and lowered it in a vain attempt to get a picture of Saturn, but to no avail—it had set behind the trees and the one shot I did get was a light blob, not worth saving.

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