Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2016
By Kadri
This week I had the chance to use a Zeiss refractor for observing and photographing the Moon and Venus.
The refractor in question is an old and big one, namely it's from 1911 and it has a 20cm objective lens and a focal length of 3 meters.
It's housed in a historic observatory, where the telescope tower is moved manually, the observation slit's hatch-doors are also opened and closed manually, etc. Oh, it also has a clock drive, which can keep up with stars for an hour or so without having to be wound up again.
I have observed some planets, and the Moon on several occasions with it before, but I've never been able to find the object, focus it, take pictures etc, on my own.

So my first impressions of it - first off I found just getting to the eyepiece quite a challenge, as the Moon and Venus as well were low in the sky, so the stepladders that are there were of great use, but also quite cumbersome - they're of different heights and weights, and I found that if I get the ladder in the proper position to observe though the main telescope, then I could only barely reach the guide scope (which couldn't reach sharp focus - I wonder why?).

Now another thing was, that as soon as I got my DSLR attached to the telescope, the image through it, although being larger than with my normal setup, looked really lousy - in part because of the atmosphere and bad seeing, and low fast moving clouds, and also because of me totally forgetting that this telescope also has a fine focusing screw - I kept only using the rough focusing ring!

The pictures I obtained however weren't that good in my view - the image of the Moon just wasn't as sharp as I've grown used to with a 1 meter focal length 10cm aperture refractor - really not worth it, unless I'd be on the lookout for something else, a specific crater perhaps, using eyepiece projection etc.  Maybe it'll just take time to get used to the kind of setup, where you're afraid to step somewhere and find the stepladder doesn't go that far, or find that an eyepiece or adapter has started rolling and wants to fall to the floor from the height of 2m.
I did see Venus through the telescope as well, but couldn't find it after attaching the camera, probably because the clock-drive had stopped by the time I had found Venus, which took about half an hour or so, partly because it was mostly behind clouds, and partly because the telescope had to be rotated from one side of the mount to the other side...
And the image of the Moon in the previous post was taken with that telescope in main focus with a Canon EOS 500D.

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