Last updated: 17 December 2004
Subject: ETX-70AT Lunar Observation Report Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 07:31:47 From: Gordon McGowan (email@example.com) Lunar observation report, 04th December 2004, 0700UTC, Nottingham, U.K. I got up early on Saturday morning, despite recovering from a cold to image the Moon, as the sky was perfectly dark and transparent for this suburban location. The Moon was riding high in the sky south southwest, clear of the trees surrounding the garden and perfectly placed for imaging. I was surprised the see it at third quarter phase, as I hadn't planned this session and it appeared magnificent, stark white. I quickly assembled the ETX-70AT, plugged in the portable power supply, and aligned the scope. Attaching the BC&F The Ultra afocal camera support to the 10mm Lanthanum eyepiece was a bit like wrestling with Meccanno and I had to be careful not to drop the tiny allen key necessary to adjust the mount. I fitted the Nikon Coolpix 4300 digital camera and aligned the lens with the eyepiece to allow zoom movement without vignetting. The sweeping curve of Montes Appeninus was clearly visible with the crater chains Ptolemaeus-Alphonsus-Arzachle and Purbach-Regiomontanus-Walter prominent on the terminator. Maginus and Clavius displayed dominant huge walled plains to the south. The broken ramparts and central peak of Anaxagoras were sunlit in the north. Montes Alpes were partly visible, but the Valles Alpes was sadly out of view, hidden in shadow. As always, it was difficult to focus accurately using the small LCD camera screen, but the contrasted craters on the terminator made the best targets. Tracking had to be manually adjusted at high magnifications with the Autostar. With the 3x Meade barlow the bright scarp of Rupes Recta, the famous "straight wall" was clearly visible, though fringing was minimised with a Baader contrast booster filter. On the edge of the lunar disc the slight broad depression of Montes Cordillera to the southwest of Grimaldi marked the edge-on location Mare Orientale, the most recent and perfectly preserved multi ringed impact basin on the lunar surface. Later, after the session, I had a local professional minilab print one of the full phase frames at 8 x 12" (the largest size they could machine print) and framed it in black. The typical reaction of colleagues at work was stunned awe: "Is that one of yours?" followed by silent, steady gaze at the black and white print. One manager broke off work to make a point of discussing the print informally: "That is a magnificent photograph". Fulsome praise indeed, (from non-astrophotographers, of course) but I was lucky as day 21 is one of the most spectacular views of the lunar month. Personally, I was a little disappointed at the softness in the image, but have to take into account it is not bad for such a small telescope. Actually, I think the Meade optics live up to their legendary reputation despite my concerns that the ETX-70AT might fall optically short of the Maksutovs, being a crown and flint glass achromat (ah, if only Meade would produce an Apo version, like the Tak FS60...) In the colour version of the print, violet fringing was quite well controlled, which surprised me. The image could do with processing; stacking and sharpening in Photoshop, and be printed about half a grade harder to darken the maria. But not bad for a raw, unmanipulated print from afocal projection. I'll try to image the Moon for each day of the lunar month. That will make a good, basic project and build some skill at astrophotography.
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