Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not-so-clear moon

The moon was rising over a mountain at the edge of our valley this evening as I rode home. It was huge and yellow cresting the peak, looking like a sunrise but in the negative, in the darkness. As soon as I got home I grabbed the scopes and the camera, and I ran outside. By this point, the moon was over the hill, but I got a good view of it from the crazy uncle house.

I didn't get any clear images at all; I took about 75 shots. I tried different modes--first the regular mode, then night landscape, then macro. Nothing really gave me a good clear picture, but the scope--well, the scope was spectacular.

It's funny how sometimes I get so wrapped up in digiscoping that I almost forget to just look through the scope and enjoy the crystal clear view, the zoom lens, the ease of focus. But I remembered to look tonight, and I could see craters, ridges, atmospheric distortion. It was a beautiful moonrise.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't capture it. These are the best images I got:

The second one wasn't that great but note the atmospheric distortion of the disk on its bottom edge. At times, it looked as though there were huge gouges and peaks in the edges as the moon rose into the sky. This is the best example I got of that phenomenon.

I feel like there is still a lot of handshake in my photos--especially at night with the slower shutter speeds, and even in the day. Granted, I'm still using the little table-top tripod that came with the scope; it's not exactly equipped with a microfluid Bogen Manfrotto head or anything. Further, I still don't have an adapter ring to join the camera to the scope. The Condor came with a beautiful black metal eyepiece tube cap that is visible in this photo of my two scopes:
You can see it there to the right of the tripod; it looks almost like a 35mm film can. It's threaded and screws over the entire zooming eyepiece. I am going to use its measurements to create the adapter ring--maybe tonight, depending on what I have lying around in my workshop. I have a ton of PVC left over from my scope-building, but I don't know if the inner diameter of anything I have now is correct. We'll see.

Look at my scopes side by side. Oy vey. I'm so torn. I took my homemade scope outside with me as well, but I still need to fix the mounting screw, so it was too difficult to point at my subject. I might have had more patience, had it not been about 28 degrees outside, but as it was, my hands were starting to hurt by the time I'd taken my 75 or so shots through the Condor. Further, I think the length of the tube is great for distances about 100-150 feet max. It seemed I couldn't get it focused on the moon tonight, like the scope needed to be just a tad shorter to bring the distant moon into focus. It wasn't made for night sky viewing.

Still--maybe all my scope needs is a catchy name like "Condor." How about Talon? That sounds tough! But there's probably already a Talon out there. Maybe something reflective of its origins: HomeView? Clunky? Bob? Anyone have any suggestions?

Maybe I should go out and try again to get a photo that's actually in focus. I'll see what I get and add anything good.

I took some time and made a little adapter ring out of a piece of the caulking tube of Wet-Dry roof cement, some sticky-back cordoroy, and white craft felt. I knew I'd find something in my workshop.

First, both to protect my scope's eyepiece and as padding to make a tighter fit, I swaddled the eyepiece in white felt:
Once that was on, I lined the adapter on the inside with black sticky-back felt:
I don't know if you can read those ingredients, but they're pretty scary. Next, I slipped the tube over the swaddling and onto the scope, with enough length left over to accept the camera's lens once it comes out of its housing when I turn it on (without any zoom):

I couldn't really take a picture of the whole set-up, as that would've required the camera. . . I tried the phone-cam, but it was just blurry.

So--here are the results. By this point, the moon was higher in the sky (about 30 minutes had passed during the adapter-making).

First on the regular camera mode:

Wow. Really clear, but really needing a moon filter. Then I switched to night landscape:

A definite improvement, even if the adapter ring with its padding etc. doesn't really line the camera up perfectly with the eyepiece. The focus is much improved, though a moon filter would still help. Here are some more shots; you can judge for yourself whether this crazy little adapter I threw together makes a difference. The one thing I noticed is that I couldn't seem to get the whole disk in focus. So I just focused on an edge. Here are the best results:

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