I took out the 5″ scope and the new zoom eyepiece last night for a maddening 45 minutes before the cloud returned, so this afternoon I got going while it was still light, aiming for the sliver of moon.
This has advantages:
- You can see what you are doing when setting up
- You don’t have to get dark-adapted
- It is marginally less cold than it is going to be later
- If it clouds over as night falls, at least you will feel you have done something
- should it happen to stay fine, there is time to warm up before your next session
The moon looked good. For example, the terracing, central mountains and extraordinary ruler-straight rimae of Petavius were as clear as you like. I boldly stuck the zoom into a 2xBarlow, which gave a gratifyingly vertiginous view, though of course the image was not very bright at maximum magnification. The Barlow and the zoom together make a huge lump of eyepiece, looking very ponderous on the small tube, but the mount seemed to cope and no nose-dives took place.
The terminator ended in a fine thread of illumination, with one last mountain at the very end catching the sun. As it grew darker, the earthshine became more apparent.
I tried to take a few down-the-eyepiece snaps – through 12 and 20mm plossls, not the zoom – and although I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a good photo this time, a couple of the images had enough detail to remember the evening by.