Clouds have threatened the past couple day but each night a starry window opens, and Venus returns in pursuit of the Pleiades. What fun to see the two draw closer and closer until Venus literally invades the cluster’s space on Friday night. I wanted to share these photos with you to whet your appetite a little. Crossing my fingers for clear skies.
I’ve also had fun the past couple nights photographing the moon with my smart phone (an older iPhone 5E) taken through my 10-inch telescope. I use low magnification (76x) and carefully hold the phone over the eyepiece — moving up and down and from side to side — until the camera is in position and the moon appears on the screen. The detail you can capture with a hand-held phone coupled with a telescope is simply incredible. The phone automatically focuses and for the most part does a good job exposing the scene correctly. To correct for over- or underexposure tap the screen image and slide an icon (the sun on my phone) up or down.
Lest you think you need a 10-inch telescope put the thought out of your head. A little 3-inch instrument is fully capable of delivering crater-packed images (see below). Here’s a selection of scenes from the past two nights. The wide fields showing the entire moon were made at 76x; the tighter views at 174x. At high power, getting the camera in the right spot takes concentration, but if you persist you will succeed. I follow the ancient rule of every photographer: keep pressing the button until you get something you’re happy with.
Over the next few nights the terminator, the line dividing lunar day and night, will swing to the east, exposing hundreds of new craters each night. If you have a telescope or spotting scope, center the moon in the field of view and carefully hold your phone over the eyepiece end to capture photos that will really surprise you.