Vacation Day #4 and I spent some time this morning experimenting with solar photography. On June 5, the transit of Venus will take place and since the next one after that won’t happen for another 115 years, I thought I should try for this year’s! I discovered to my dismay that the very expensive, modern-design, Herschel Wedge won’t work for photography with my “big” telescope — the six-inch, 1,219mm Meade LXD75. Rats! I’m going to make quick queries to see what I can do to resolve the issue if I’m to use the wedge any time soon … and June 5 is soon! I could not crank the camera “in” close enough to achieve focus with the wedge in place. So with the telescope still set up in the mid-morning sunshine, I removed the wedge and covered the telescope’s objective lens with the very inexpensive AstroZap filter made using Baader AstroSolar film. I connected my trusty (and light-weight) Canon Digital Rebel XT to the scope’s eyepiece holder and made several bracketed exposures. Later I discovered the results were very good though not quite as good as shots made with my Canon EOS 50D and Canon 400mm telephoto. The difference in quality may be attributed to seeing conditions –the images were made days apart– but either setup will do just fine for recording the historic celestial event. Now all we need is clear skies on that day!
Tonight I dragged out my Meade 390 refractor and took a look at the pairing of planets Venus and Saturn in the twilight sky. With the 32mm eyepiece I was just able to fit both planets in the same field of view and got a very nice look at Venus in crescent phase –perhaps the best I've seen it– with Saturn tiny but distinct. The twilight actually helped by controlling the contrast of brilliant Venus. Swung the telescope around and got a nice look at Jupiter, as well, viewed through openings between the trees here at home.
Once done with the short viewing session I decided to try and imitate a wonderful photo someone else did: their telescope silhouetted against the sky with star-like Venus and Saturn visible. I took too long and lost my ambient light so all I got was what you see here. Not near as good as the other fellow's but not bad, either! It felt good to get out and experiment and learn a little more about my camera. Earlier in the day I played with attachments and got my Canon Digital Rebel XT mated to an adapter that will fit 1.25-inch telescopes! Got easy focus using the Meade 390. Now I can use the camera with the 6-inch Meade and the 9-inch scope! Can hardly wait to try it out with the Moon as subject. But that's for another night .