Astrophotography is a complicated endeavor. One of the biggest issues with astrophotography is getting skies that are dark enough for imaging. Living in a city does not help, although the use of special filters and digital cameras makes it possible. The moon, however, is a monthly intruder that casts off huge amounts of excess light, limiting the amount of time you can image. That is, of course, unless you just decide to conquer the moon on those nights instead. 😉
The last couple of months, when the moon has been waxing towards full, I’ve taken that time to keep imaging. I just image the moon itself. Using planetary imaging techniques, where one takes fast video sequences of short exposures instead of slow long sequences of long exposures, it is possible to image the moon in truly great detail. The moon has long been one of my favorite subjects. It was one of the first subjects I started photographing back in 2009 when I first picked up photography. I’ve photographed it as a whole in just about every way possible, to the point where I have nearly exhausted the options.
Zooming in and getting really close, however, has opened up a whole new arena of moon photography for me. There is so much detail on the moon’s surface. At first I started at 600mm, then added my 1.4x TC for 840mm, then used the 2x TC for 1200mm. My most recent photo, included here, combined both a 2x and 1.4x TC for a total of 1680mm. That’s the limit of what I can do with my 600mm lens, however every time I increase the focal length, there is just more and more detail. A larger, longer telescope, in the realm of 5000-8000mm, is going to be necessary to really get in CLOSE and pick up finer detail that I can just barely see when I’m processing, but which I cannot fully realize. Hopefully that new telescope will come soon, an AstroTech 8″ Ritchey-Cretien (very nice scope, only costs $895…which is surprisingly cheap for astronomy gear.)
The images I’m sharing here are of the mountainous region of Mare Ibrium. Ibrium is one of the largest mares on the moon. These particular images are of a very interesting region to the south east of the mare, where a number of large craters and some mountain ranges provide intriguing subjects for study. In the first image, the wider field, you can see the entire region. Reaching in from the lower edge (the east) is the Apenninus mountain range. Embedded right in the mountains near the bottom is a small crater, Conon. To the right and a little above that small crater is a group of three large craters. The largest is the crater Archimedes, a more well known crater. Immediately to the left are the Montes Archimedes, seen mostly as a rough patch of surface. See the second image for more relief. Below Archimedes is the lesser known Autolycus, and next to that is Aristillus. Above Archimedes is the medium sized crater Timocharis, and above that is the crater Lambert. Moving left from Lambert is a smaller crater Pytheas.
We now run into the Montes Carpatus range, which is further left from Pytheas, reaching down from the top of the image. Embedded in these mountains are two small craters, Guy-Lussac and Guy-Lussac A. These two small craters lead up to another more well known crater: Copernicus. Copernicus is the largest crater in these images, and is seen as a bright spot just below Mare Ibrium with the naked eye. Just above and to the left of Copernicus is Crater Reinhold, and just below and to the right of that is Reinhold B. These craters, along with Copernicus, are actually within Mare Insularum, rather than Mare Ibrium. Down and to the right a ways from Copernicus is Crater Eratosthenes. There is a ridge stretching out from Eratosthenes to the left. This ridge is actually a part of a faint crater called Stadius, the circular impression of which you can barely see.
The second image shared here is a close up of the area around Copernicus. This closeup is actually beyond the limits of what my current equipment can do at 1200mm, so there is really not much more detail here. The final image, which I did recently at 1680mm, shows more detail and a bit more relief in the area around the craters Archimedes and Eratosthenes. This is about the limit of resolution for my current equipment, I’m totally maxed out here. There is definitely more detail, however to resolve more than this, I’ll need more advanced equipment.