Had some clear weather this evening. Took the scope out initially just to have a look around. Had a look at Saturn noticed the image didn't look as good as it should so - couldn't quite get it in focus and it had a red hue I did a star test to check the culmination of the optics. I was losing at least 30% of the damn light which was just being reflected into the side of the scope, now I knew it was pretty bad but the star test confirmed how bad. So I decided to go for it and sort the thing out. After about 2 hours of tweaking with a spanner and screw driver managed to get a real improvement. Probably the best the scope has been in about 7 or 8 years. Now if only I could get the mirrors recoated as they're filthy.
Went back to Saturn and was blown away. The Cassini Division was easily visible, a major cloud band was easily visible - usually they're pretty tough due to the lack of contrast.
Then I moved on to one of my favourites the nebula M42 which as usual looks awesome.
Then moved back to Cancer and the open cluster M44 from there it was just a short hop back to Saturn - and the Tablet PC and webcam.
This time I went for some of Saturn's satellites too - I'm surprised the webcam picked them up - I never bothered in my last set of images as Saturn was in front of M44 making it impossible in a single session to determine star from moon, now it's moved off they're easy to identify.
The resulting image is actually composed from two images. The first being Saturn itself stacked from around 800 frames with 1/500th of a second exposure time - the next stacked from about 10 frames each one having a longer exposure of about 1/10th of a second to pick up some of the moons, resulting in Saturn appearing over-exposed.
Quickly pasting the good Saturn on top of the over exposed one results in this:
The amount of detail is much better over previous attempts. Cassini Division easy to spot - cloud bands easy to spot and best yet the shadow of Saturn casting over the rings behind it (resulting in the black wedge cut out of the rings) - and even the shadow of the rings in front of Saturn. The four moons imaged were Titan, Rhea, Dione and Tethys.
Next up is to get a barlow lens with the right focal length - then I'll be able to get much more detail on Saturn as more of the camera's resolution can be used on it. Then we've got Jupiter racing into the sky, which is my second favourite planet after Saturn, it'll also appear quite a bit larger hopefully revealing a lot of detail even without the barlow lens.