Managed to get quite a lot done this Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday night was clear and we managed to open up the Observatory and get some observing done. The G11 is still playing up and I suspected the memory battery cell was flat, so I loose all settings when I power down. That’s been rectified now, so will have to rebuild the pointing model the next clear night we get.

Collimation is still not smack on. Pushing the scope past its x403 mag limit using the 4mm TMB Monocentric, it was possible to see the Airey disk well out of round and missing sections. The atmosphere was a little lumpy so it wasn’t possible to make out the direction of misalignment to allow it to be corrected, so will again need to await better conditions. This might have explained why views of Mars were very disappointing. A section from my viewing logs reads as follows.

“After five minutes of observation – and after pre focusing on Regulus – it was possible to see the North Polar ice cap. After another five minutes, I could see a dark section running from the 1 o’clock down to about 2/3 to the centre and up to the 2 o’clock position. However this feature was barely discernible and you start to wonder if your eyes are playing tricks. Sand also observed this feature so I guess it’s a feature.”

Saturn was a delight though. The banding of the principle cloud belt – sorry I can’t find anything where names for the various belts are given – was outstanding and seems to contain quite a bit of structure. The crepe ring was also easily seen against the planets surface background.

We didn’t both trying to do any deep sky with the ‘SuperMoon’ up, but we did capture. this rather mediocre image using the Nikon D5100 and this two pane mosaic. While it might look OK here, the image is very soft and all attempts at sharpening the detail failed. Can’t wait to get the new DMK webcam as this is definitely going to get better results.

During the day we also captured some sunspot activity using the Nikon in video mode However, I’m still unable to find any software that will convert the .MOV files outputted by the Nikon, into something that Registax is able to read. Searches on the web suggest product A, B, C etc will work, but they don’t output using the appropriate codec. Will get back to this some other time.