Entries tagged as Celestron NexStar 6SE

Nikon P1000 observes ISS-Sun transit

Nikon CoolPix P1000 observes the Sun next to Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope

Encouraged with the results from the previous observation, I took the Nikon P1000 outside during the day to take the photos of the ISS crossing in front of the Sun. Last time I was able to see the transit at home was three and a half years ago. I also got my Celestron telescope out as a backup in case any one of the equipment failed to record the phenomenon. The camera needed a solar filter like the telescope, so I bought an ND100000 glass filter online for US$40 that provided the same amount of light reduction.

Full-resolution composite of the ISS passing in front of the Sun on November 3, 2018 (click for the full photo)

Although the P1000 has burst mode, it can only take seven photos in a span of a second. The window of opportunity was too narrow, so instead of taking the risk I used the 4K 30fps video capability instead. It would sacrifice image quality, but I was sure to get the shot if the frame and focus were right. And sure enough, the transit was captured successfully as you see above.

Stacked image of the ISS shows the details

The result may not be not quite as sharp as using a telescope, but much of the features of the space station were distinguishable. Perhaps I should try the burst mode the next time I get the opportunity to see if that makes a difference.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 400 - 1/500s - f/8
Filters: ICE N100000 (Neutral Density 16.5 Stop)
Time: 2018-11-03 10:48:02 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
17 photos processed with Pixelmator and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Mars at Closest Approach in 2018

Mars as seen in 10-minute intervals starting from the midnight of August 1, 2018

Mars comes close to Earth every two years or so, but due to the elliptical orbit the closeness varies a lot. It came as close as 0.373 AU in 2003, while it was 0.674 AU away at its approach in 2012. The closest approaches happen every 15 or 17 years, and the latest one happened on 16:50 KST, July 31, 2018, at a distance of 0.385 AU. The next one will happen in 2035. Since this year's occurrence happened during the day, I did the next best thing and got my telescope set up that night to take a good look.

Unfortunately, Mars is experiencing a planet-level dust storm since early June and it has not subsided yet. A peek at the planet during last week's lunar eclipse indeed showed a mostly uniform orange disk, confirming my fears. I wasn't about to give up, so I got my Baader filter out and hoped for the best. Thankfully, the two-hour shooting session did not go to waste as the hours of post-processing finally revealed some discernible surface details, as you can see here.


You can even observe the planet visibly rotating in this video that incorporates all the photos I took. It's similar to what I made two years ago, but the continuous shooting made for a more fluid animation.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 100 - 1/100s - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-07-31 23:59 - 2018-08-01 01:50 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
481 photos processed with PIPP 2.5.9 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

100-minute tracking of Jupiter

Jupiter and the Galilean moons seen on 00:44, April 20, 2018

Jupiter and its four major satellites (Galilean moons) are good targets for time lapse photography because of the relatively rapid movement. The rotational period of the planet is slightly less than 10 hours, and Io, the innermost of the Galilean moons, orbits the planet in about 42.5 hours. Under good conditions, these things become noticeable over a span of just about an hour.

Shortly after midnight of April 20, 2018, Io came out from behind Jupiter on the left side, while the Great Red Spot was moving towards the back of the planet on the right side after being in the center. These were all captured on my camera as I took 597 photos of the Jovian system over a period of 100 minutes between midnight and 01:40AM. The photos were then stacked and processed in 1-minute intervals (6 photos on average), like the one you see above, then put together into video as you see below.


I think it shows the dynamics of these celestial objects quite well. Now that I have a good grasp of the workflow for making a planetary animation, I should be able to make a similar one for Mars when it approaches Earth close enough to be seen as half the apparent size of Jupiter next July. Before wrapping up, here's a bonus picture of the Jovian system that I took just after photographing the Sombrero Galaxy. You can actually see Io casting a tiny shadow on Jupiter. I thought I would never see that sort of thing on my telescope.

Jupiter and the Galilean moons seen on 01:03, April 19, 2018

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 100 - 1/15s(#1), 1/20s(#2) - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-04-20 00:00 ~ 01:40(#1), 2018-04-19 01:03(#2) KST
Location: Naju, Korea
597(#1), 6(#2) photos processed with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Sombrero Galaxy

Sombrero Galaxy seen on the night between April 18 and 19, 2018 (25% size)

I was looking to photograph a galaxy that was shaped distinct enough to look like something other than a blob of fuzzy light ball under limited equipment and conditions. Looking through the available targets, I picked out the Sombrero Galaxy, also known as Messier 104. This is a spiral galaxy in the Virgo constellation that resembles the shape of a sombrero, a Mexican style wide-brimmed straw hat.

As you can see here, the observation and the photography were successful. The "brim" definitely makes the galaxy easily identifiable, helped by the use of a filter to cut down the ambient light pollution. The photo isn't quite as smooth as I liked due to the field rotation inherent in the Alt-Az mount. This prevented me from using an exposure time longer than a minute, and I had to compensate with a high ISO setting.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 3200 - 60s - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-04-18 23:08 ~ 2018-04-19 00:48 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
7 photos stacked with DeepSkyStacker 3.3.4

A more successful tracking of ISS

ISS as seen from Naju in April 12, 2018

After several days of clear skies, clouds have been rolling in for the past two days. Amazingly, they did thin out for a few hours in the evening, enabling me to see the ISS for two consecutive days under good conditions. Tracked observation on April 11 failed due to low battery on the telescope, but I was better prepared on April 12 and made a successful tracking.

The International Space Station was 546km away from me at the closest approach at 19:38:03 (408km altitude, -3.6 mag brightness), so the second photo from the bottom right is representative of this. It is coincidentally the clearest photo I got. You can identify many of the modules - starting from the Zvezda module on the top and moving down, you can see the Zarya module in the center with two radiator panels side by side. On the bottom, you can see the cluster of Columbus-Harmony-Kibo modules in the center, with large solar panels on each end. The bright spot is likely where the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the CRS-14 mission is currently docked at.


As I have captured several hundreds of frames, it was sufficient enough to arrange them into this 34-second video clip. I have hosted the file on the website, and it should be watchable on a modern browser.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone X (afocal)
Settings: 28mm - ISO 400 - 1/1500s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Date/Time: 2018-04-12 19:37-19:38 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
Photos processed with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8
Defined tags for this entry: , , , , , ,

Copyright (C) 1996-2018 Wesley Woo-Duk Hwang-Chung. All rights reserved.