Total Lunar Eclipse August 28th, 2007.


Half an eclipse is better than none

I found myself back in Brisbane visiting family at the time of this eclipse. I got together with Greg Bond and Tony Dutton at Greg & Leeanne's place at Wilston, about 3km north of the Brisbane city centre. We set up three mounts. I set up my ED80 on my equatorial mount as a visual instrument. Greg set up a 60mm Takahashi refractor for visual. On his Takahashi EM400 mount we mounted his 4" FSQ refractor and piggybacked my Orion 4" Maksutov on that.

The weather didn't cooperate. Thick cloud blanketed the sky. We sat inside having dinner and checking the sky regularly. The cloud cleared at 10:30UT just before mid-totality. Even with the cloud problem, we still had another 40 minutes of totality left - plenty of time to rattle off a string of exposures. When setting up the piggyback arrangement, Greg couldn't get my Maksutov and his refractor to align perfectly. So he entered the difference as an offset in  the EM400's GOTO system.

We took turns shooting pictures needing only to push the jog button to re-centre the image in each optic. I used the auto bracketing in combination with the mirror lock up on my Pentax K10D. Each time, I locked the cable switch on and the camera would shoot a five exposure sequence of 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s, 15s. At mid-totality, I also added a 30s exposure to the sequence.

Tony had another EM400 set up with a 5"f8 refractor sitting on that

All Maksutov's are very unforgiving in the focus department and mine was no exception. It took me a little time to get the focus correct but once I did, the results exceeded my expectations for this instrument. The high precision of the drive system on the EM400 was a major contributing factor to the success. The EM400 drive system is so accurate that unguided 30s exposures were possible at 1250mm focal length. The pictures shown here were taken through my 102mm Orion Maksutov.

Joe Cali




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