SteadyPix, need things to look at

The Orion SteadyPix camera mount is a failure so far. It just kinda sorta works. It’s a rig that clamps on one end to your eyepiece and at the other end has a tripod mount bolt for your camera. It’s pretty adjustable so you can hold almost any size camera up to the eyepiece for some afocal photography. It’s well built. However… I have a hell of a time getting a clear image in my DSLR. Canon 350D, 28mm f/1.8 lens, it seems totally random whether I get an image or not. I managed to get one clear daytime image of a distant tree through it, and I kinda sorta could see a fuzzy blob where Jupiter was tonight. But mostly I can’t get it lined up right. Not a lot of room to move, either, I fear scratching the lens. And if the telescope is pointed below about 50° the weight of the camera pulls the scope down, the mount can’t handle the weight. All in all not a good hack. I’ll try again with this camera rig with a small point and shoot (a Canon S100), I suspect that will be more forgiving. What I really want to do is prime photography though, camera back mounted directly to the focusser. This whole eyepiece + lens thing is dumb. Apparently it’s necessary though, like many Newtonians my Orion 8″ has a funny geometry and the camera can’t achieve focus at all. Haven’t tried it, but everything I’ve read says its true.

Great clear night though! Revisited lots of old favorites. Really clear image of three bands of clouds on Jupiter. And I saw Europa just before it got occulted. Orion Nebula looked grand and beautiful in the 25mm eyepiece, lots of detail and even a little colour. Found Andromeda Galaxy again quite quickly, and tonight it was clear and dark enough I could make out M32 and M110 as well. I even popped in the 7.5mm eyepiece for M110 just to be sure, there it was! Didn’t succeed in seeing the Pacman nebula (NGC 281), couldn’t find it. May have seen it there but hard to pick out from the general Milky Way. But easy time heading over to Caroline’s Rose, that is a really beautiful object.

I’m astonished at how fast I can re-find things like the Andromeda Galaxy or Caroline’s Rose; it took me 15+ minutes to find each the first time, now it’s 30 seconds. I wonder how many objects I can have that kind of memory for?

I really need a list of targets + charts to find them. I’ve got some books and stuff for that but it seems like a chore to do all the prep. Also I’m not interested in some of what the books encourage finding; double stars for interest. Just not that excited. I should just work through the Messier catalog, using seasonal visibility as a guiding principle.

I keep hoping to wake up early enough to catch Saturn. It’s so low in the sky, and I have to get up before 6:15am to beat the sun.