I spend the last week looking deep into the details of the Aopllo 11 landing site, searching on the web for photos and then trying my luck and finding this location with a few of my telescopes. I started off last week thinking I'd casually search for this area with my new AT-92 I just picked up on July 9th, seven days past the new moon. As impressive as this scope is, I just didn't have favorable seeing conditons in addition to not having tracking on my light weight CG-4. Seeing was never better then 3/5 as noted on my local Clear Sky Clock web site.
I was convinced this area was still hidden under the shadows and not even visible, despite all the web sites stating otherwse, I never pushed my small triplet harder then 75x, since it was my first night with my new scope and I was just enjoying how impressive it was both optically and mechanically.
I tried to convince another astronomer friend that the site was still in the shadows and all the web sites were incorrect about when was the best time to see this site. He was skeptical as to what I said since he was interested in searching for this site also.
The following day, July 10, eight days past the new moon, I tried again with my new AT-92, this time I had my Vixen mount set up with tracking. Also, I inserted my big barlow into the focuser draw tube then my diagonal, then using my eyepeices, I was running at about 3x the magnification on all of all my eyepiece, pushing the focal length to about 1500mm at just over F/16.
The scope handled the extra focal length easily, so I started again searching for the site. I got as far as locating the surrounding craters, specifically, Theophilus, and then tried to walk over to some of the smaller known craters.
Clouds were in and out, and at times, the moon was completely covered but I noticed this was going to be harder then I thought. The Photos I was using and the reverse images I was seeing in my eyepiece were not easy to follow. Struggling with this area of the sky due to some overhead clouds, I again gave up for the night on the moon.
The next few days were too cloudy but finally, last night was clear so I tried my luck again, this time with my larger Skywatcher 120ED, again using my Vixen mount with tracking. Despite the seeing conditions being listed again as 3/5 from my local Clear Sky Clock, the conditions just seems slightly more stable.
Being more familiar with this area now, I found Theophilus right away and began walking up my magnification higher and higher until I was at nearly 250x using my 3.7 Stellarvue Optimus 110 deg eyepiece. The 110 degs eyepiece was a real blessing, giving me plenty of field of view so i wasnt struggling to find my place. I could seeing the effects of less then ideal seeing condions, where the view would completely loose focus, then come back. My 10:1 microfocuser really helped, and also, I really dialed in the polar alignment were tracking was absolutely dead on accurate.
I found Craters Sabine and Ritter, after about an hr, again after struggling with the reverse view I was seeing in my eyepiece verses what my photos were showing. I also had my Lunar Atlas out but the photos I saved from the web on my smart phone were really all I needed.
I then found crater Moltke, it was there but the focus was difficult to hold. At times however, the clairity was excellent and the details just jumped right out at me, so positioned my chair where i was comfortable and just stared into the eyepiece with my hand controller and started walking over to where Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were.
After maybe 10 minutes, Armstrong came into view. Maybe the seeing conditions were improving, but once I saw it, It was always there. I could not make out Aldrin or Collins. I played with the focus and stared for a while. then Aldrin started coming in. It was in and out at best, but it was definately there. I bumped up the magnification to 327x. Armstrong and Aldrin were still there. I stared endlessly for Collins but I couldnt see it. I was convinced if the seeing conditions were better, it would have come into view. Nevertheless, for last night. I could not see it.
I had my C8 out with me also, so I replaced my 120SW with my C8. The C8 was out for hrs also, so it was already acclimated to the outside conditions. Immediately I noticed the resolution increase using my C8. This is the newest model with the XLT coatings but the black model, not the Edge HD.
Using my 1.25 TV everbright diagonal and walking up the maginfication, I stopped at my 8.8 ES 82 degs 1.25" eyepiece (236x.) I again found craters Sabine and Ritter. The resolution increase was immediately obvious in the C8, despite the much touted "pristine" optics of the SW120ED APO.
Armstrong came into view as well as Aldrin. I stared at the area where Collins was and I saw something there. Something was definately there. After a few minutes, it became obvious I was seeing Collins. I inserted my 6.7mm 82 degs ES eypiece, (310x) did a quick focus, and there it was, just as obvious as Armstrong and Aldrin. At times, the clairity was excellent, when the seeing was more steady. At times, it was as if I was looking at a completely new area when the seeing was better.
The focuser on my C8 is just excellent. There was no noticible image shift at all, even at 310x. and the entire field of view was excellent.
As for last night, it was pretty fun searching for and finding the Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins craters just a short distance from where our Apollo 11 astronauts landed. Its a nice celebration for me to do this, commenerating that historical event, and also thinking back when I was pretty young, with my 60mm Tasco, also looking at the moon with my brothers and sisters and parents all involved with me since I was the youngest, and the science nerd in the family, even back then.
I hope others make the effort to try this out also. Its pretty exciting even today, sharing this with my wife and family now, just days from the big 50 year aniversary of this historical event that seemed to have shaped so many of our lives.
Ralph in Sacramento.
Edited by aa6ww, 13 July 2019 - 11:22 AM.