Astrophotography
by
Bob Woish, WB3T
I finally decided to try deep-space astrophotography in summer 2009. These were taken with a homebuilt 6-inch f/4 RFT optical tube on an LXD55 mount, and a Meade Deep Space Imager (DSI) in July 2009. I plan to improve dramatically on these, but I wanted to post my "first attempts." Below, the scope that dunnit!
M13
The Hercules Cluster
M27
The Dumbell Nebula
Comet Hale-Bopp, 1997
Welcome to my astro page. I have been experimenting with digital webcams to capture those planet photos I have always dreamed of. Some of the older pics were taken with film. If you don't know what that means, you're just too young...

Updated August 2012
Above, left - my best photo of Saturn - Taken April 2, 2006 with my Orion 10 inch Newtonian on a Meade LDX-55 mount, and Philips ToUCam Pro webcam. This is 800 frames combined using Registax. The shot on the right is Mars at closest approach to Earth on August 27, 2003. This is 320 stacked frames. Jupiter, center, is 1200 frames taken March 29, 2004 showing shadows of two of its moons, Io and Europa, as they transit the planet
My favorite Jupiter shots. Io and Europa, moons of Jupiter, cast their shadows (right). If you look close, you can see the moons themselves hovering over the northern cloud belt near center, close together. One is whitish and the other is brown.
Lunar Landscapes
Moon / Mars Composite, January 2008. Both shots were taken with a 10-inch Newtonian reflector and combined in Paint Shop Pro.
Mars at closest approach to Earth, August 2003. For this I used my Celestron 8 inch SCT.
Our other close neighbor in space, Venus, showing a gibbous phase as it faces the Sun.
Venus transits the face of the Sun as seen from Earth, June 8, 2004. Until now, this hadn't happened in 130 years!
Sunspots - coveted by hams everywhere!
This Page Last Updated 4/29/2015
M57
The Beautiful Ring Nebula
Orion 8-inch Newtonian
LXD-55 Mount
Augut 2009
Summer 2010

Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt has faded, but should regain its color in the coming months. 1486 stacked frames, shot with my new Sky Watcher 120ED refractor telescope, July 26, 2010.
Moons in Orbit

In this image, Jupiter's moon Ganymede is seen to the lower right in orbit around the planet. Meanwhile, Io crosses the face of the great gas giant, just left of center - its shadow is cast to the right, near the planet's eastern limb, as the Sun shines from half a billion miles to the west. 650 stacked frames shot July 30, 2010.
PROJECT M
The Continuing Story of My Obsession with Vintage Monolux Refractors

My newly restored Monolux 4369, a 60mm x 700mm high quality refractor. These were made with fine Japanese optics in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I stripped it down, refinished the tripod legs and buffed, polished, and/or painted every part, screw, and bolt to new condition. Wood screws in the legs were replaced with brass screws and a few mechanical repairs were done. The diagonal was replaced with a hybrid that allowed use of modern 1.25" eyepieces, but the entire focuser was later replaced with a 1-1/4 inch upgrade (Hands On Optics has these for a better price than I paid... wish I had known that - see below). An Orion 1-1/4 inch diagonal went on next. I shortened the tube by 10mm to acommodate the extra in-travel needed due to the longer light path of the larger diagonal. Finally, I re-aligned the crown and flint glass elements in the objective cell for near-perfect achromatic high resolution performance that, due to its high f-ratio and quality optics, approaches chromatic (color wavelength) accuracy of a modern "semi-apochromatic" or ED scope. With a Chromatic Ratio of 4.94 this scope, though small, is a real winner!

On its first night out, I bagged the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Io and its Shadow, Epsilon Lyra (split at only 78x), The Andromeda Galaxy, Ring Nebula, The Perseus Double Cluster, Albireo, and many star-rich fields across the Milky Way. Since then I have watched Jupiter's famed Great Red Spot and several smaller Jovian storms and features on several nights as they rotate around the planet in real time. Resolution is sufficient to have correctly identified Callisto, the smallest of Jupiter's Galillean Satellites, by its size and color, at very high power. Lunar views remain crisp up to 200x using a 7mm Orthoscopic ocular with 2x Celestron Achro FMC Barlow. This is a sharp, high contrast vintage scope. To use and old phrase, they don't make them like they used to!
The Monolux Model 4369, Built Circa 1965.
Restoration Completed August 2010.
Yup. It's as beautiful to look through as it is to look at!
Above: Who says you can't see the Great Red Spot in a 60mm Refractor? Notice also the white streaks just south of the NEB and the irregularities in the NEB itself.  This is a combination of 359 frames stacked in Registax - the exposures were taken from a video taken at a high frame rate on an altazimuth mount, not driven. Despite these challenges, a good amount of detail is evident. The visual view is even more clear.

Below: The Moon Through the Monolux 4369
August 26, 2010
The Monolux 4380 - 60mm EQ - Restored 2006
As received, this Monolux 4380 had a broken leg center section. I drilled lengthwise and implanted a steel reinforcing tube, epoxied the joint, and moved the braces up the leg a bit to cover the seam. Then I stripped, sanded, stained, and refinished the tripod legs, painted the tube flat white (which looks really nice), and cleaned up all other parts with soap, scrub brush, steel wool, and Scoth Brite. Then with a bit of lube, the result was this fine scope,which  now belongs to my niece Jacqui. Sharp, high contrast craters on the Moon, GRS on Jupiter, and the Cassini Division in the rings of Saturn were easy targets. Close doubles split cleanly and star test patterns indicate the legendary Monolux optics (made by Towa at the height of Japanese dominance of high-end optical technology) that vintage telescope afficionados seek.
My Favorite Astro LINKS

NOTE! I am in no way affiliated with any of these suppliers, they are just my favorites, that's all. I am a believer in consumerism, that means if I got service I like (and that is all too uncommon these days) I feel I should let anyone know who may be reading my ramblings who might be looking for similar products or services.

www.handsonoptics.com - If memory serves, Gary is the owner's name. Gary (?) and Sherry Hand have been great. I have only dealt with them twice but both times they were able to provide products not available elsewhere simply because they tried harder and they knew what to do to get me what I needed. Kudos. I should have checked with them first on my new focuser, I'd have saved over 20% for the same model. Shucks. There is similar pricing on high-end equipment as well. Depending on what you're looking for, savings could be quite significant. For example, the Sky Watcher 120ED is priced $200 below most other dealers. I got mine used, or I would have gotten it there.

www.telescope.com - Orion Telescope Center. Well known for outstanding service and product selection. I have purchased many items from them over my 30-plus years as a telescope nut, on only two occasions quality was substandard. Not uncommon in the Chinese-driven manufacturing industry. The difference is, if you get a lemon, Orion will bend over backwards to quickly get you a replacement, at their expense. 100% satisfaction guarantee, money back or replacement Totally trustworthy.

www.telescopes.com - not to be confused with the above! This is a Hayneedle company and the prices are a bit better than the rest of the market on eyepieces. Looking for a good Ortho (aren't we all)? Check out their prices on the Baader Orthos. Hard to beat on planetary/lunar performance. PLANETARY OBSERVERS: before you spring for a new scope, upgrade to these Orthos. You'll see more.

adorama.com - Another place for excellent service. Fast shipping, fool proof guarantee. Adorama had some customer service issues back in the 70's when I started out but things have changed. Huge assortment of photography and astronomy equipment. Highly recommended. Do yourself a favor and avoid those other New York camera/photo/telescope dealers. They'll pick your pocket and give you a "too bad" story if you've been mis-led. Adorama is the exception - no questions asked here's-your-money and a shipping label return service.

astronomics.com - Good service, great selection, and a web site that's as informative as an encyclopedia on astro equipment. Check out their product descriptions for the scoop on scopes, eyepieces, Barlows, mounts, drives, accessories, you name it. Maybe the first place to look for info and equipment recommendations. Even an area for How to Pick a Telescope.

cloudynights.com - Cloudy out tonight? Feed your astro addiction with articles, equipment reviews, and more. Wondering which scope or accessory is better? Someone has probably already done a side-by-side comparison and posted detailed results on Cloudy Nights. Check it out.

astromart.com - The last word in used equipment. A better user rating system than the big "auction" sites, more honest sellers, higher quality wares, and a perfect meeting place for buy/sell/swap/auction astro equipment. Users carefully protect their reputation among fellow astro enthusiasts and we all get to know each other more than the other ePlaces. Don't get ripped off online, visit Astromart.

skyandtelescope.com - Web site for my favorite astro magazine. I love the articles on equipment, planet news, and theory, but my favorite part is the frequent information on astronomy history. Also a beefier mag than competing magazines. The website is packed with information.



Stay tuned - more to come as I think of them.



A 60mm f/15 Sears refractor, circa 1970. As received it was quite dirty with oxidation and even a bit of rust here and there on the chrome screws, but a good scrubbing, burnishing, Scoth-briting, and a gun-metal paint job brought this one up to like new condition. The objective is not the best, maybe 1/2 wave or so. I'm on the market for a replacement lens. The focuser of course has been replaced with a 1-1/4 inch model. Low power deep sky and medium power Lunar views are very nice, I'm working on bringing planetary performance up to snuff. The way this came out cosmetically, it'll be worth the effort. Give me time...
December 2, 2010 - GRS almost front and center. Io Shadow. Still only a hint of an SEB, but volcanic activity has been reported in the region and that is what leads to reformation of the missing belt. Stay tuned...
Jupiter, November 24, 2011. Notice all the atmospheric activity adjacent to the Great Red Spot. Orion 8-inch Newtonian telescope at f/20 on Meade LXD-55 mount. Best 656 frames of 1055 stacked in Registax and processed in Paint Shop Pro.
I call this one Monolux 7 because it's the 7th one I've owned since 1965. This one is the venerable Monolux 4369, an altazimuth mounted 60 x 700 mm with a nice lens. Super portable and super clarity! I painted the tube and cleaned up the rest, but the tripod legs needed nothing as they were in brand-new condition when I bought it. Very lightweight for quick peeks at the heavens when I only have a minute or two. Unlike Monolux 6 (a modernized EQ mount gem), I kept the original focuser in place with the Monolux label, and use a hybrid diagonal with 1-1/4" eyepieces for nice sharp, wide views.
Jupiter with Great Red Spot and Ganymede (one of Jupiter's four largest moons) crossing the planet. Celestron C6 on Meade LXD55 mount, April 22, 2015
Jupiter, Celestron C6 at f/30
April 28, 2015