At about 5 tonight I drug the C8 out to set up for the evening without any real imaging plan. I roughed in the polar alignment and set about aligning my electronic finder with the main scope. After that I mostly just looked at the Moon via, gasp, actual eyepieces. First, I started with a big 2" 40mm that easily fits the full disk. Later I switched to the new 1.25" 24-8mm zoom eyepiece.
The Moon. It. Is. Amazing. I realized several things tonight.
1) No photograph I have ever seen of it does it justice. Sorry guys. It just seems impossible for the camera to capture what our eyes can see. Namely that it is bright white yet not blown out anywhere. It is brilliantly bright all the way to the terminator in a way that my photographs do not show. Somehow the camera captures what it is, a dirty dingy thing the color of ashphault, but not what we see, which is a brilliant white beautiful thing.
2) I can *see* the colors. Since I've been doing color treatments of the Moon by pushing the saturation I've realized that the different shades of browns and grays are there in the unsaturated image all along, plain as day if you know what you are looking at. Well it's just as true if not more so when actually looking at the thing. The subtleties of the colors and textures are downright sublime and plain as the nose on your face.
3) I believe tonight's phase must be my absolute favorite. The craters and mountains and rilles and maria near the terminator tonight were amazing. There was one particular large crater on the [southern] terminator completely in darkness except for the illuminated central peak. Just incredible.
4) As bright as the illuminated side is, you can see the dark side of the Moon by Earthshine right in the eyepiece; you can see the whole disk, at least for now. That gave me the idea to do something I've never done before: I observed the dark side of the Moon (it's all dark, really) by telescope. I moved the illuminated side out of the field of view and just let my eye get more and more dark adapted. As the minutes went by I could clearly make out features on the dark side of the Moon, both bright and dark. First was dark Grimaldi, which is easily recognizable as a very dark circle near the limb. Then was the extremely bright Aristarchus. Eventually I could see the large regions of light and dark; I found it helped to traverse up and down in my fine altitude adjustment, as the motion makes clear what is actually there and not sure a trick of the very dim light.
5) The zoom eyepiece is a joy to use on the Moon, although I suspect it will be even better in my 10", which has a 1200mm focal length instead of 2000mm, which is the focal length of the C8. The full disk would not fit at 24mm in the C8, but it certainly will in the Dob. In any event, it was a pleasure to scan around the Moon and then zoom in by a factor of 3 for a close look. And it gives your eye a break from the brightness (I was not using a Moon filter tonight). If you don't have one yet, I highly recommend getting one just for observing the Moon.
6) At least for a while, I am going to be trying to recreate what I saw in the telescope tonight in my images. I don't exactly know how to do that yet. Stop pushing the saturation, for one. It doesn't need it. Two, compression. Our eye's can compress the dynamic range of an image in a way that the camera can't. So I have to figure out a way to do that, to achieve that brilliant white Moon with its sharp terminator that is somehow still not blown out. I don't even know if it's possible. But I'm going to try.
Tomorrow I'm setting up the Dob and the only thing I'm going to be doing is looking at the Moon.
Edited by Borodog, 20 January 2021 - 12:20 AM.