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