SpaceX Starship SN15 landing
Image above from the SpaceX video of the flight

This amazing vehicle has taken another step forward; it now flies and has landed safely, still using the same manoeuvre to get from horizontal to vertical just before landing.

Here’s the video:

It will be interesting to see what they manage next. It’s going to be a while before they get this into orbit.

Flying the Ingenuity helicopter carried on the NASA Perseverence rover is quite a feat. It has to be done completely autonomously; Mars is currently over half an hour away for round trip radio signals, so remote control is not an option. There’s no GPS to help navigation either!

A pity they couldn’t have tracked it off to the right as well, but at least it came back!

Here’s the mission website: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Moon

I decided that I wanted to try a Bahtinov mask for focus tests on the 3 inch refractor, after having tried one on a telephoto lens with some success. The Moon was about so I thought it could be a good test. This image is what I managed purely by using live view to focus. The live view was monitored on a tablet, by using the HDMI output from the camera, and a video capture dongle. Continue reading

M44 Praesepe

Yesterday’s image of M44 Praesepe, or the “Beehive” cluster. This was taken using my old 135mm Pentax fitting lens, with a mild Barlow in the Pentax to Nikon adapter. I use it because it’s faster than my other lenses; f/2.8 as opposed to f/5.6 on a telephoto set at 200mm, or f/4.5 on a zoom set at 70mm. The image quality is not as good as that from the Nikon zoom set at 200mm, but exposure times are much shorter. I need to be patient!

The image is from a total exposure of 240s, and (at last!) with a flat field applied. I took a set of twilight sky flats for all my lenses, so that I can do more experiments.

Whole moon image

Yet another clear evening! A new adapter for my old Pentax fitting lens had arrived, so I was keen to try that; however I had also found an ancient eyepiece for a microscope that fits in the camera adapter for my old 3 inch telescope, so this is a photo of the whole Moon taken with that setup. Continue reading

Orion nebula

An unexpected clear evening (the weather forecasts are hopeless at present) meant a happy couple of hours testing the telescope drive for photography, with some success. The header image is the Orion nebula (M42), which can be compared with the previous version of this posted on 27 February. Continue reading