I’ve been stopped by a problem with my Skywatcher HEQ5 mount. Without the mount I can’t do anything as the tubes (Omni 120 and Vixen A80M) are both too heavy for the other mounts I have.

So I had to wait for a new the motherboard to arrive and replace the burned with it.

In the meanwhile I decide to go for a semi-stationary mounting setup using the HEQ5 and the steep tripod. I won’t use the Berlebach wood one as I don’t like the idea to leave wood outside all of the time 🙂

I raised the tripod as much as I can and placed it so that I can start imaging as early as possible. I have it on my “Sun” terrace that is exposed to South so I have the Sun for visible for all the day.

I just ordered the Geoptik telescope large cover that will protect the whole setup.

I also improved the tube performances, in particular contrast, by placing black velvet inside the tube and focusers.

I also tested 3 (+ a Red 610 one) filters from Baader: the Neodymium (that I use normally), the Fringe and the Semi-APO. I still don’t have a real winner but they are all very good. By looking and the spectrums with my small Meiji spectroscope the Semi-APO seems like the Neodymium+Fringe together. But still can’t say which one is better for solar imaging. I also made a visual test on the Moon (more later) on the Vixen and it seems that the Semi-APO with a Wratten #12 (Yellow) is the best solution.

Anyway.. here’s a test image I made after the HEQ5 was made to test that everything was back to normal 😉

The post processing has been very quick and not all the usual steps were taken, for example no gradient removal, etc. Also the seeing was’t good… but it’s just a test image.

Another thing I’ve been working on lately is a light imaging setup based on a mini DVR + monocrome video camera (a Pulnix TM-6CN): I bought the camera for a few tens on dollars on eBay and is good enough for doing some quick “low resolution” imaging without the requirement of any PC. The idea (and a lot of suggestion) came from my expert friend Maurizio Locatelli. I won’t ever thank him enough for his consultancy 😀

I had to do some soldering as the camera came without any cable. So I had to build the power/video cable as well as a small shutter control using a simple DIP switch. Here’s how it looks like:

I still have to test it so I don’t have any image made with it (the mini DVR still has to arrive… from France).

The weather forecast is not good for the coming days so probably I won’t be able to take many images. Not much happening other than a very nice filament in the AR11451 area. Other than the sunspot in AR11445 they are very small and not very active. March has been a good month for solar imaging and hopefully April will be even better.

I just saw a forecast of solar activity for the coming months/years and the new calcs say that the solar maximum will be in December 2012. So we still have a few months to be prepared 😀

As I wrote before it’s been quite warm here in the previous days and so I came back to do some night observation. For the first time with refractors. Before I used only Schmidt Cassegrain and Maksutov and so I was quite curious. Naturally I started with the Moon. The Omni 120 is my official HA setup now so I “only” have the Vixen A80M easy to setup for night observations and I have to say that it was a great view. I’m definetly in love with refractors! I never had such a crisp and detailed view of the Moon. Probably I’ve also been lucky with the seeing. I tested all my Baader contrast filter with it and found that the Semi-APO + Wratten #12 is the best choise. At least for visual. I tried a very very quick recording with the DMK41 (first time with it other than for solar imaging) and… I have to do a lot of practice. With the Sun you have plenty of light so all you have to do is play with the exposition. You don’t have to touch “gain” and other settings. With the Moon and other planets things are different. So I had to increase the gain if I didn’t want a too slow exposition time.

Here’s the image I took:

A little dark but you have to think that it’s at the “terminator” and so in an in between situation for light. Probably in the coming weeks I’ll take more recordings of the Moon (and planets) and will try to make some mosaic. If they are good it maybe a good idea to start a new blog just for it 😀

That’s all.

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