Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Mount, New Evening Star"!

I needed to set up for an astronomy event last evening and was finally "forced" to set up my "new" (to me, anyway!) AP1200 mount!  I was forced to use it as my old reliable G-11 mount finally has a new home with a friend of mine.  So for the first time I mounted the C14 telescope on it - it worked great!  It breaks down into more pieces, so even though it is a much more substantial mount, it is no more difficult, likely easier to set up that the older mount.  I've yet to use it for imaging, so haven't put much of a strain on it, but it seemed to work well, and I'm looking forward to next dark of the moon to get under a dark sky with a camera.  The deal I made for the mount only included the equatorial head - I needed to make arrangements for a new pier and legs, and I also refused to pay the inflated prices for counterweights, and all of these accessories worked well too.  It should serve me well for many years...
Last night I also noticed that the innermost planet Mercury is also quite high in the evening sky, so I went out tonight to image it in the twilight.  Shown at left in a 1.5 second exposure, as it gets dark it is easily seen just south of due west.  It will be an excellent chance to go out and search for the most elusive of the visible planets because it never travels far from the sun, and rarely in a dark sky.  So certainly go look for it in the next couple weeks.  If you click and look at the full-size image, the star seen faintly to the left of Mercury is Phi Aquarius.  Normally a star barely visible to the naked eye, it is obvious here only because of it's proximity to Mercury!  Be sure to step out and catch the show the next few nights!

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