Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Keep watching the skies!
More from the wonderful world of back-garden astronomy. This is an image of Saturn I took on my new webcam - a Philips SPC900 - a few days ago - about the last time we saw the sky in the UK (click on the image for a closer look).
Even a good webcam like a this one can only see planets and the brighter stars (and the Moon, obviously). If you can hold a soldering iron steady, it is possible to modify the camera to take long exposures to take pictures of so-called 'deep sky objects' - nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, etc. Have a look at this bloke's stuff. He is also a Christian.
You won't see Saturn looking quite like this in a typical small telescope. The rings are easy to see, but it will be quite a bit smaller. This image has undergone a lot of 'post production' processing.
I hope to do better, but at present we have 'wall to wall' cloud.
Incidentally, if anyone is thinking of buying a telescope, get some advice first. The important thing to remember is that magnification isn't that important - what really matters is the width of the light-capturing lens. Most people could usefully start with a pair of binoculars. A good specification would be 10x50 - 10 being the magnification ('ten times'), and 50 the aperture (in millimetres). This second figure is the important one, not the magnification. I got a decent-enough pair from Lidls for £15 and it is worth checking out their website on a regular basis. (The guy who runs the Firmament site, above, buys from Lidls, Holland.) If you can get a pair of 10x70s, even better!
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