2012 06 25 – When All Else Fails, Get Out the Camera

Pulling out the Celestron 102mm refractor and setting it up on my LXD75, I was looking forward to a long session with the Moon. Several things had gone wrong that day and I had it in my mind that a peaceful observing session was just what I needed. It turns out that I just couldn’t relax and frustration kicked in.

I’m sure you all can relate: couldn’t get comfortable; neck was hurting; even though I had sprayed myself with bug spray, mosquitoes were nibbling at my ankles; sweating into the eyepiece and the dogs were barking at seemingly nothing, putting my nerves on edge and forcing me to shut them in the house.

Nevertheless, I tried to pull myself out of that funk. Manilius caught my eye straight away, as did Rima Ariadaeus and Rima Hygius. I got out the sketch kit and while drawing terminator shadows, it quickly became obvious that I wasn’t in the right mindset to sketch. I moved further into the lighted area of the 6-day Moon and thought perhaps if I concentrated on an object with minimal shadows things would improve since I wouldn’t feel so rushed. I targeted Plinius. Soon after, I found myself swearing at the diminishing seeing conditions at increased magnification and the target was small enough that removing the Barlow meant loss of details anyway.

Resigned to the fact that I simply wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself sketching the Moon, I soaked in the views instead. For some reason, I couldn’t even bring myself to jot down notes or dictate the observation on my iPhone voice recording app. The view was so beautiful and I was failing to record it in either of my usual methods. That’s when I remembered my camera.

When I first became active in astronomy, I had purchased a Digi-T adapter for my camera at the time. I enjoyed photography and thought I would equally enjoy dabbling in astrophotography. What I discovered instead was that the adapter was too fiddly and it was taking away from my viewing session, not to mention the number of times my camera and/or the Digi-T adapter fell off the scope. And the little wrench was nearly impossible to use in the dark to tighten the adapter. That’s when I turned to sketching at the eyepiece.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like playing with gear and electronics, but when I’m under the stars, I much prefer the quietness of a Dobsonian and sketch pad. Would you believe that instead of using the GoTo features of my LXD that I unlock the clutches after alignment and star hop with my Telrad the majority of the time. When I find my target, I lock the clutches and use is mainly for tracking. But anyway, I digress.

I picked up a bower for Canon (AF) either at the Apollo Rendezvous or from an astro friend of ours, John Crilly, several years ago and it never got used until Paul borrowed my camera for the Venus transit. There’s nothing fiddly about it at all. You just take the lens off your camera and put the bower on it in its place, then slip it into the eyepiece holder and tighten with the set screw. Swapping my sketch pad for the camera and adapter was my last hope to record that night’s session. I took about 10 photos with slight adjustments to focus, ISO and shutter speed before finally settling on two images that were suitable for a mosaic. I needed to add a 2x Barlow because of in-focus issues, which then meant that I couldn’t fit the entire Moon phase in one photo. I wasn’t about to attempt a focal reducer, assuming one could have been used with this set up. That’s Paul’s area of expertise, certainly not this sketcher’s.

This is my first successful image astro image through a telescope and although it could be a lot better, I’m pleased with it and am tempted to dabble in astro photography once again. (Did I just hear other sketchers gasping??)


~ by Erika Rix on June 27, 2012.

2 Responses to “2012 06 25 – When All Else Fails, Get Out the Camera”

  1. Let them gasp. (So long as you remember where you left your pencils.)


  2. Nice! I really enjoyed your description. I can definitely relate to battling the frame of mind sometimes, and even down the the in-focus/2X barlow/mosaic moon photo situation. Great shot!

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