south lunar highlands


bean an amateur astronomer iz very tuff. one reason iz holding down a wonk job 7 am to 3:30 pm and staying up late studying the heavens.

some other reasons are air pollution, light pollution and the natural and unnatural air turbulence. even if it iz crystal cleer some times the air iz so bumpy you cant use high power. some times the air iz hazy and you can use all the power you want.

so i mainly use a Compact Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with 1540mm (f/12.1) focal length. i got it as a returned “second”, $125 off! really excellent optical quality.

i find setting it up iz still a hassle even though it’s under 15 inches long and the tube is under 9 pounds. i can pick the tube and tripod up easily but i still bump into things. then you always have to align it well enough to track the stars.

i started making videos a long time ago so when it iz cloudy or i am lazy i cud still look at something.

i’m a lunatic so my fav is the moon, that iz earth’s moon. it’s only a quarter million miles away with lotz of detail.

back in dee day there just wasnt HD or 4k video. sheesh! if you cud get 512 lines of NTSC you wuz happy. i hooked up a modified 8mm video camcorder to the scope and got great results at prime focus.

before dat i wuz a visual observer with the human eye. i seen all sorts of fine and poor seeing of the atmosphere. more often then not i good seeing even in the grape stake of new jerky.

i wud start out wiff a low or medium power eyepiece and work my way up to the most magnification the night sky wud take. sometimes i would just have to decrease the power.

the moon, mars, jupiter, saturn and the rest. a 5 inch mak is ideal for planets and bright clusters. faint objects like nebula or galaxies it aint too good for.

i got other scopes for faint subjects. i have a clock drive to make up for the earth’s rotation but more often than not i just keep tweaking in the object manually. if you have the declination set on the north pole then all you adjust is right ascension. modern wide field high power eyepieces make it easy.

still, in the summer when it iz warm at night there are all sorts of biting insects. in the winter it iz often impossible to keep warm at the scope. hence video. i made lotz of video, mostly of the moon.

here’s one of the southern lunar highlands.

it wuz a very still night. the air was calm and steady with only slight roiling.
we live on a planet with a nearby moon. some boffins call the earth moon pairing a binary system. except for pluto (which aint a planet, heh-heh!) the earth is the only planet in out solar system with a large moon close to it.

mercury, none. venus, none. mars, two mini moons. jupiter has lots of moons, some close to lunar size but juptier iz so large they are like mars’ moons to scale. same with saturn, uranus and neptune. to scale the moons are tiny.

any moon that is 250,000 miles away from those gas giants gets ripped apart from tidal forces.

when i look at the moon over and over sometimes i finally notice some oddball feature. the moon haz many queer looking things on it even at low power. what iz low power? 150x.

let’s say my scope haz a FL of 1570 mm if i use a 10 mm eyepiece i get 157x magnification. if i use a 5 mm eyepiece i get 314x. that is pretty much the max power for that diameter scope. i often have used that power on fine clear steady nights. the moon! jupiter! mars! saturn! all wonderful sights to behold. canals, the red spot, the rings. yeah, way cool. the distributer sez max power iz 250x but this scope i have will take 314x with no complaints the atmosphere being the limiter!

the moon being the closest iz the brightness. making good videos iz very easy. i often use a filter to cut the light. green turned out to be the best, maybe becuz of the type of color filter on the vidcam CCD chip.

8mm video wuz the first consumer grade format that wuz completely digital. the info iz stored digitally. i have 10 yeer old 8mm tapes that play perfect. have you ever noticed that old VHS and beta tapes look blurry with smeared colors? the high frequency analog magnetic information degrades. the 8mm iz stored az ones and zeros. i have seen momentary glitches and drop outs. itz not perfect just better. of course it iz interpolated to analog output. but… when i capture it on the computer to make a DVD there iz less loss. and… i can manipulate the data easier. i do it the hard way becuz i dont have software. i make a DVD then play it back into the computer for recapture and use the DVD slow or fast forward and zoom. i’m impressed with the image quality. for instance, i use prime focus but i can use 1.5x, 2x or 4x zoom on interesting features. combined with 1/2 fast forward i can study interesting features in a more relaxed way compared to the eyeball ah the eyepiece.

i have ben using ancient technology slightly more advanced than stone knives and bear skins. well, itz paid for and laying around. for youtube itz just fine. besides, itz for historical documentation. some other wonk or boffin may want to compare the moon from 2010 to say 2110.

often when i am really getting into some view a bug will attack my neck, so i slap it and while doing that my knee hitz the tripod and whacks the alignment. a nice video removes all that.


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