Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saturn and Venus, May 29, 2013

I went out this evening to see if I could see the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury. Predictably, there was cloud on the horizon, blocking Jupiter.  I could see Venus, but I assumed that Mercury would be lower in the sky.  This assumption was incorrect and I could have seen and imaged Mercury if my preparation had been a little better (lesson learned!). Atmospheric instability made focus almost impossible, but I did capture an image.  As you can see, Venus exhibits almost no phase at this time as it is on the other side of the sun from us. Mercury would show around a 60% phase at this time--I wish I had imaged it! I did also manage to get some images of Saturn.  These were taken with the ETX 125 without barlow.  The captures were originally at 1280x720; 1000 frames with the best 200 stacked and processed.  This image is heavily cropped, hence the pixelation.  Color balance was hard to achieve in processing, so there is a sight pinkish/magenta tint.  Seeing was average/poor. Again, the ETX shows why it is such a good little scope. Compare with the June 29 image taken last year under excellent conditions at Cape Cod, and it's obvious how important seeing conditions are.

Venus--it was hard to avoid over-exposure.  Even this dim image shows signs of "blown" white in the center