Lunar Observing & Imaging in
Honor of Neil Armstrong
Posted: 26 August 2012
The sky was mostly clear on Saturday, 25 August 2012, so I planned to do some lunar observing with my Meade ETX-90RA (purchased in 1996). But then, like the rest of the world, I learned of the passing of Neil Armstrong, the first known resident of the Earth to walk on the Earth's moon. I decided that I would honor Neil by using my Edmund Scientific 3" Newtonian telescope to observe the moon. I received the telescope as a Christmas present in 1961, and so I had this telescope when Apollo 11 made the trip to the moon and back in July 1969. The observatory was opened at 1850 MST, 94°F. The 3" telescope was set up on the observatory patio:
I did some lunar observing with the 3" Newtonian telescope, 40X and 120X. I then mounted the iPhone 4 on the 3" using the MX-1 afocal adapter.
This is the moon, cropped, as seen through the 3" telescope:
Mare Tranquillitatis, where Apollo 11 landed, is just to the right and above center in the image. This next image with the iPhone on the 3" telescope, afocal 120X, shows the "Sea of Tranquility" above center:
After completing the iPhone imaging on the 3" Newtonian telescope, I did some more lunar observing using the 3" and my 3/4", 1/2", and 1/4" eyepieces (diameter 0.965"). These provided 40X, 60X, and 120X, respectively. The telescope performed well, although the primary mirror could use a re-coating after over 50 years. It was exciting to be using the same telescope that I had used in 1969 to see where Neil and Buzz landed. A lot has changed on our planet in that time, but the view of the moon this night was the same as it was in 1969 (although the phase and distance were slightly different).
I then moved the 3" telescope to Saturn, low in the western sky, and viewed it at 60X. The view reminded me of my first look at Saturn through a telescope. It was Easter morning in 1962 and I woke up early to catch Saturn from our front porch as it cleared some trees. I set up the Edmund 3" Newtonian telescope and used the same eyepiece (1/2", 60X) to see Saturn. The view was so incredible to me (being a young teenager at the time) that I ran back inside the house and woke my mother up so that she could see what I had seen. Later that day my mother took this photograph of me and the telescope:
After viewing Saturn this night, I returned to the moon (I wish humankind would do that soon) and did some more lunar observing at 60X and 40X. Ah, the memories.
At 2012 MST, I powered up the Meade 8" LX200-ACF inside the observatory. I did lunar observing, 77X and 364X. I then switched to the visual back and mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus. This image was taken at 1/320sec, ISO 200:
These images of the terminator were taken at prime focus + 2X Barlow Lens, 1/250sec, ISO 1600:
This image of the "Sea of Tranquility" was taken at prime focus + 2X Barlow Lens, "Hat Trick" Method, ISO 100:
Using the excellent guide on How to Locate Tranquility Base on the Moon by Pete Lawrence, I marked the location of Apollo 11 "Tranquility Base":
I ended imaging at 2043 MST and did some more lunar observing at 364X. As I did, I remembered a time when humans worked and lived there. Neil was the first. As his family requested, I "winked at the moon". RIP Neil Armstrong.
The observatory was closed at 2102 MST, 77°F.
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