There was a bit of haze yesterday and some clouds coming and going. During some periods the sky would clear completely and remain like that for a while. Then clouds would come again in small groups. It was also windless, hot and humid but good for planet observing.
I gave the 60mm f/17 Carton a ride on the Sears 60mm f/15 equatorial mount. This 50 year old equatorial has good stability and smooth movements, a pleasure for hand guiding. I never use the RA slow motion cable. There's a knob on one side and the gear that connects to the clock drive on the other. It's easy to reach those and move the scope in RA avoiding the instability produced by the RA cable. The Declination cable does not bother at all but it can be substituted with an old radio knob. An average polar alignment sufficed and I was observing Jupiter in no time.
The Carton objective is excellent. At 9:00pm Jupiter came up crisp and clear on the 9mm Plossl (111x) with several belts visible and a dark elongated feature on the equatorial border of the NEB. At 166x the NEB was showing irregularities and the equatorial region was evident. Sometimes the Saharan haze would thicken and a reduction in glare brought up the thin clouds north of the NEB.
Saturn was very nice at 166x with the Cassini division clearly showing. I powered up to 250x with the 4mm ortho and the planet image held very well still showing the equatorial belt and the Cassini division. Though not a fan of very high power, I like to push the optics and see how far they can go. Good optics can take high magnification. After Saturn I had to wait a while for clouds to go away.
Mars was a pleasant surprise showing the little south polar cap and dark regions very clearly even at 250x. I experimented on Saturn with my lighter filters and found that the Wratten 15 and 80A produced the best results. The 80A enhanced the darker areas and reduced the planetary glare to make the brighter areas easier to see. I was also surprised at the clarity of the view that resulted by combining the 9mm Plossl with the vintage Celestron Ultima barlow (222x).
The Carton is a notch above the Sears 6305 but not a big notch.
There was no use trying DSOs with the haze. Albireo was totally obscured and the Lyra parallelogram was absent. That gives an idea of the level of haze present. Summer may be over for many of you folks but we'll have it here at least until mid October.
Edited by oldmanastro, 19 September 2020 - 09:52 AM.