DIY Plate for Telescopes

I’ve built an aluminum plate for my equatorial mount to allow it to carry the main telescope and the guide scope for autoguiding purposes. In autoguiding, it is important to minimize flexing between the imaging telescope and the guide scope, thus, a plate with suitable thickness helps address this problem. This DIY plate measures 12 cm by 20 cm by 1 cm and made from a solid aluminum plate from a local metals supply shop. Holes have been drilled on the plate to allow attachment of various loads such as DSLR cameras and different telescopes.

Kenko NES mount with a DIY aluminum plate

Related link: Sky-Watcher 100ED Refractor

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Saturn | April 2021

Saturn is now a little bit higher in the early morning sky. While still considerably dimmer than Jupiter, it registers quite well with a web camera. A hint of the ring’s Cassini division and Saturn’s cloud bands are visible in this photo captured with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and an SPC900NC web camera.

Related links:
Web Camera for Imaging Planets
Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Lunar Occultation of Mars

The moon is also known to eclipse planets, and one such event involving Mars occurred on April 17, 2021, a relatively rare astronomical event visible in the southern part of the country. I was able to observe and photograph Mars before it was eclipsed or hidden from view by the moon, from Bacoor City, Philippines. Mars’s red hue and some lunar craters are visible in this photo.

Related link: Lunar Occultation of Jupiter

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Europa’s Shadow on Jupiter

Europa casts a shadow on Jupiter, imaged on April 17, 2021 at 4:30 am local time (20:30 UTC, April 16) using a 4 in f/9 refractor and an SPC900NC web camera. This photo is a stack of 1000 frames from a 4-minute video of Jupiter, processed using IRIS.

Related links:
Transit of Callisto
Transit of Io

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

DIY Telescope Tripod and Crate

I’ve built a wooden tripod for my Vixen 80 mm f/11 telescope on an altitude-azimuth mount. The tripod legs were built using 2 inch by 1 inch wood, with length that approximates the length of the optical tube assembly (1 meter). I’ve also built a crate that will hold the telescope and tripod as one unit, for easy transport and storage.

Related link: Vixen 80 mm f/11 refractor

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

International Space Station | April 2021

International Space Station (ISS) imaged in Bacoor, Cavite, on April 12, 2021, 6:24 pm local time (10:24 UTC), as it orbits at a height of 420 km above the Philippines. The main body, radiator fins, and the solar panels of the satellite are visible in this photo. Image taken with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and a Polaroid N302 dash camera. To watch a video on how this image was taken, click here.

Related link: International Space Station | March 2012

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Transit of Callisto | April 2011

Jupiter’s moon Callisto appearing as a dark dot against the bright planet’s disc, was seen transiting Jupiter on April 4, 2021, 5 am local time. Another Jupiter’s moon, Io, the cloud bands, and the great red spot, are also visible in this photo. Very bad seeing conditions made it difficult to capture sharper views of the planet. This image was captured with a 4 in f/9 refractor and a dash camera.

Related links:
Transit of Io
Transit of Venus

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Saturn Imaged with a Dashcam

Saturn is also now visible in the early morning sky. It is considerably dimmer than Jupiter. A hint of the ring’s Cassini division is visible in this photo captured with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and a dash camera.

Related link: Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Jupiter | April 2021

Jupiter is now visible in the early morning sky. It is still low in the horizon making it very difficult to image. Jupiter’s cloud bands are visible in this photo captured with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and an SPC900NC web camera.

Related link: Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Vixen 80 mm f/11 Refractor

This is a 1990s Vixen 80 mm f/11 achromatic refractor on an altitude-azimuth mount. I cleaned the lens, repainted the optical tube assembly, and adjusted the mount. This telescope is primarily used for public stargazing events. It is easy to transport, easy to use, and well suited for viewing the moon and planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

DIY Shutter Switch | Canon 50D

I’ve built a remote shutter switch for my Canon 50D to enable it to take exposures longer than 30 seconds, which is essential in astrophotography. Since the camera already has a battery grip, I just bypassed the battery grip’s shutter button and put an external switch. To make it removable, I used a wire that plugs into a socket hidden neatly in the battery compartment. To watch a demo video, click here.

Related link: Connecting a DSLR to a Telescope

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Earthshine and Planetary Grouping| March 2021

Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and the crescent moon formed a celestial grouping on March 11, 2021, visible to the unaided eye. Also observed was the moon’s earthshine, in which the crescent moon’s darker surface is illuminated not directly by the Sun, but by sunlight reflected off the Earth.

Related link: Moon | February 2021

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Sunspot AR 12192 | October 2014

This is an image of the Sun showing the sunspot AR 12192, the largest sunspot of the solar cycle 2010 to 2020. This image was taken at solar maximum when the sun is most active during a cycle. It was imaged in October 2014 in Quezon City using a 4 in f/9 refractor and a Baader ND 5 solar filter. The textured surface of the Sun and a number of sunspots are visible in this photo. Never observe or image the Sun without the proper solar filters.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Veil Nebula in OIII

A narrowband filter such as an Oxygen III (OIII) filter inserted along the optical train lets the light from the stars and nebula pass through, but block out everything else, particularly light pollution. This image was taken in Quezon City with a Canon 450D and a 4 inch f/9 refractor, exposed for 30 minutes at ISO 1600, tracked and guided.

Veil Nebula | Sky-Watcher 4 in f/9 refractor
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Smartphone-to-Telescope Adapter

Smartphones can be used to image the moon by holding it next to the eyepiece of a telescope. For smart phone cameras, a mid-power eyepiece such as a 25 mm eyepiece yields good results. To hold the phone camera steady while taking a photo, a smartphone-to-telescope adapter may be used.

This imaging method is called afocal imaging, in which a camera with its lens is mounted next to another image-forming optical system such as a telescope with an eyepiece or a pair of binoculars.

Related link: Universal Camera Adapter

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

How To Take Photos of the Milky Way

The Milky Way is most prominent in the sky during months of March to May each year, visible to the unaided eye in the southeastern horizon at around 2 to 3 am. The maps below show how the Milky Way would look like in the Philippine sky at various times of the year. 

To learn how to capture the Milky Way, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Moon | February 2021

I always image the moon whenever I have the chance. My telescope, which has a focal length of 900 mm is particularly suited to take moon photos. With a DSLR equipped with an APSC-sized sensor, the moon almost fills the whole frame. Click to view a larger image and see the craters up close!
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

DIY Battery Adapter for DSLR

I’ve built a DIY battery adapter for a Canon 1100D using a 12V power connector, a power supply regulator, and housing of an old battery. The DIY adapter provides power to the DSLR from a DIY field battery for extended use during imaging sessions.

Related link: Field Battery

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Home-brewed Straight Key

I have built a Morse code straight key using brass plates, small bearings, brass shaft, and some brass screws from power supply binding posts. The key is mounted on the same aluminum plate with my home-brewed electronic keyer with paddles and desk microphone. With this customized straight key, I hope to get a better sense of rythm in sending Morse code.

To watch the straight key in action, along with the electronic keyer with paddles, click here.

Related link:
DIY Iambic Morse Code Keyer

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)