# The Moon through my El Crapo Telescope

• Stargazing
Gold Member
Hi, I just managed to take my best picture up to this time of the Moon through my crappy $35 scope. Professionals would have cried if they looked at my setup : • a Chinese$35 telescope
• a really (REALLY) unstable mount
• a mobile phone camera held up by hand in front of the eyepiece, set to ISO 50 because of the bright light of the Moon
...but with some postprocessing of the photo we are able to distinguish different areas and even a couple of craters:

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pinball1970, russ_watters, fresh_42 and 5 others

jedishrfu
Mentor
It looks so eerie.

davenn
Gold Member
2021 Award
a good start

so first thing I ask is .... does the visual view through the scope look better that that photo ?
eg. sharper better defined craters etc ?

if the answer is yes, then you need to play with focussing a bit, it can be tricky to get sharp

Using a mobile phone camera isn't the best way to get a good pic.
I have to assume your mobile doesn't have manual focus ? most don't and they hunt for good focus and usually fail to find the spot

assuming you answered yes to my first query, my next Q is ....
do you have a DSLR camera ? one that the lens can be removed ? if so, what camera ? make and model ?

Dave

davenn
Gold Member
2021 Award
Ohhh and full or near full moon isn't the best time to image the moon
As you discovered, it's very bright and a lot of the detail is lost ( even with a good camera)

Imaging during small crescents through first quarter and up to gibbous phase are the best times
when most crater detail is seen, particularly along the day/night terminator line

Dave

jedishrfu
Mentor
Or when it’s an awesome lunar eclipse like the one we won’t be able to see in the states.

MP9721NRC and davenn
Gold Member
so first thing I ask is .... does the visual view through the scope look better that that photo ?
eg. sharper better defined craters etc ?
Yes!
if the answer is yes, then you need to play with focussing a bit, it can be tricky to get sharp
With my setup it's more than tricky . It's almost impossible because of the incredibly shoddy mount and a handheld phone. I was lucky to get the shot I posted. When I use this amount of magnification as seen in the photo, and when I turn the focus wheel as gently as I can on the telescope, the mount starts to vibrate, and the Moon dances around, which makes it VERY hard to focus, haha!
Using a mobile phone camera isn't the best way to get a good pic.
I have to assume your mobile doesn't have manual focus ? most don't and they hunt for good focus and usually fail to find the spot
My camera has manual focus. I would have tried that if I was able to fasten the phone with one of my camera adapters, but they are not good enough to fixate the phone properly. Also, the scope gets a considerable torque from mounting the phone, making the mount unable to keep the balance.
assuming you answered yes to my first query, my next Q is ....
do you have a DSLR camera ? one that the lens can be removed ? if so, what camera ? make and model ?
No, I don't have a DSLR. But I may get one in the future. I was about to get one a year ago, but I could not make up my mind. I am thinking about possibly getting a so called compact DSLR* (correction, see next post). And I assume you mean I should get a DSLR and shoot pictures without the camera objective, using just the photosensor?
Ohhh and full or near full moon isn't the best time to image the moon
As you discovered, it's very bright and a lot of the detail is lost ( even with a good camera)
Imaging during small crescents through first quarter and up to gibbous phase are the best times
when most crater detail is seen, particularly along the day/night terminator line
Yes, I have seen that, it can be very, very beautiful, and I will definitely try to take photos of this in the future!

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Gold Member
I am thinking about possibly getting a so called compact DSLR* (correction, see next post)
I just realized they are not called that in English. I did a quick, wrong translation from the Swedish word. What I meant was a so called Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC).

davenn and sophiecentaur
sophiecentaur
Gold Member
Or when it’s an awesome lunar eclipse like the one we won’t be able to see in the states.
You can moan if you like. It was more disappointing for me, in the UK, when the eclipse was on the one night when the clouds were particularly dense. Astronomy is like fishing; too many things conspire against success. You just have to wait for the next event to come along and grab what you can.

sophiecentaur
Gold Member
What I meant was a so called Mirrorless
Mirrorless is not necessary. Most half decent DSLRs will allow some strategy to avoid mirror shake. I have even heard of opening the shutter (on Bulb setting) with a 'hat' over the front of the camera and the exposure time determined by the time that the hat is removed - no shaking at all. Not even the vibration from the shutter!
The vital thing is to have 'live view' option to allow good focussing with a magnified image. I never managed to get good enough images of dim stars through the viewfinder so I had to spend money. (A well known effect in astronomy; the slippery slope)

DennisN
New to the forum, but noticed the topic of this thread- Below is an image from my cell phone using a $20 mount to attach it to a small, inexpensive Dobsonian-mount telescope. Using the cell phone mount to hold it up to the eyepiece was the biggest factor in getting good photos for me, making it stable and in a fixed position relative to the eyepiece. I am continually amazed at the quality of cell phone cameras. #### Attachments • 20180618_204309ed1-br-20-crop-resz2.png 184.9 KB · Views: 537 Andy Resnick, pinball1970, davenn and 3 others Gold Member Thanks for your reply, @MP9721NRC ! Below is an image from my cell phone using a$20 mount to attach it to a small, inexpensive Dobsonian-mount telescope.
Beautiful and impressive!
Using the cell phone mount to hold it up to the eyepiece was the biggest factor in getting good photos for me, making it stable and in a fixed position relative to the eyepiece.
I understand. I've bought two camera mounts/adapters, but none of them works well with my setup due to a variety of reasons. Thanks to this thread, I am now thinking of making my own custom camera mount. MP9721NRC, what kind of camera mount did you use?
I am continually amazed at the quality of cell phone cameras.
Me too. I have a LG G4, which easily beats my Olympus compact camera. Which phone did you use?

Gold Member
Mirrorless is not necessary. Most half decent DSLRs will allow some strategy to avoid mirror shake.
Interesting, I did not know that! And the reason I was a bit interested in mirrorless cameras, was because of their size and weight, which seems to be less than DSLRs. Mainly because I like to use it for other things too, and I like smaller equipment.

And while we are talking about cameras, I'd like to share the following two clips, for fun and inspiration... taken with the "compact" camera Nikon Coolpix P900 which has 83x optical zoom:

Nikon Coolpix P900 ( Test zoom moon)

Nikon P900 - Zooming Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the Moon in 1 Night!

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MP9721NRC, davenn and jedishrfu
Gold Member
a small, inexpensive Dobsonian-mount telescope.
Also, what telescope make and model is it? Do you have a picture of the scope or a link? I am interested.

sophiecentaur
Gold Member
And the reason I was a bit interested in mirrorless cameras, was because of their size and weight, which seems to be less than DSLRs.
Mirrorless is an interesting way to go and, starting from now and if I had a lot of cash, I would probably consider it. However, I started off with a Pentax SLR, about thirty five years ago and I have a stock of lenses which are compatible with my present Pentax DSLR. Also, if you fancy a second life as a regular photographer, there are many excellent second hand SLR lenses available when you would probably be needing to buy everything new for a Mirrorless system. But, as you say, size and weight can be important.
My new Pentax has a rotatable screen which is very useful for viewing at the lunatic angles that telescopes can position themselves. Unless you intend to use a laptop to view the image, in which case that would not be relevant.

If you are planning to step up your involvement with Astronomy (in particular, Astrophotography) you will need a mount that tracks for exposures shorter [Edit LONGER!!!] than a small fraction of a second, to avoid star trails. Using an eyepiece adds impairments so you will end up with Prime Focus images, which affects the size of Image Sensor you need for imaging large and small objects. More of the slippery slope effect!
PS The Moon image is encouraging.

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MP9721NRC and DennisN

Beautiful and impressive!

I understand. I've bought two camera mounts/adapters, but none of them works well with my setup due to a variety of reasons. Thanks to this thread, I am now thinking of making my own custom camera mount. MP9721NRC, what kind of camera mount did you use?

Me too. I have a LG G4, which easily beats my Olympus compact camera. Which phone did you use?

Yes, the setup has worked well- the cell phone mount I have is made by Meade and I see it on different sites for $19.99, though I probably paid a little more when I got it locally at a telescope shop (I like to buy local when I can). The image below is during the solar eclipse last year, mounted on a 6-inch reflector on a Dobsonian mount. I had to tighten the scope mount and add a little weight to the bottom of the scope tube to counterbalance the weight of the phone, but it worked well. Having the phone mounted like that made it easy for multiple people to see through the scope at once, plus the little kids in the group had fun with it once they found out they could just say "Shoot" and it would take a picture. On the phone, I have a Samsung Galaxy S6; not sure about other phone cameras, but this one seems very flexible with respect to manual settings and such. Really surprised myself with some of the pictures. #### Attachments • PhoneCameraSetup-01resz.jpg 63.8 KB · Views: 457 davenn and DennisN Gold Member And here is my El Crapo telescope . Now with a slightly better tripod, an 0.965 to 1.25 inch eyepiece adapter, and a 1.25 inch eyepiece. Here one of the mobile phone mounts is fastened to the scope, and from the picture I think it is easy to understand that this setup is quite problematic due to the extra weight and torque from mounting a mobile phone. Also, the phone mount itself is made of metal. I was going to experiment with some other camera mounting, but the Moon decided to disappear behind the clouds... but I'll be back... #### Attachments • 43079618364_1b6ccf3399_z.jpg 122.5 KB · Views: 445 • 43079617734_4820afaf9e_z.jpg 52.1 KB · Views: 470 davenn and MP9721NRC Gold Member Yes, the setup has worked well- the cell phone mount I have is made by Meade and I see it on different sites for$19.99
If so, that adapter looks much better than the two I have got. I will have a look at that adapter, thank you!

DennisN- Yes, that's the one I have; easy to use, seems to fit most cell phones, and is made for 1.25 inch eyepieces. From your picture, it looks like yours can also handle a point-and-shoot camera, which is an advantage, but the long arm might make it a little unstable. I've found that my success or failure also hinges on which eyepiece I use, probably because of the differing eye relief of the eyepieces. Some work great with the cell phone, others just don't produce good images, regardless of what it looks like visually through the eyepiece.

Below is probably my favorite cell phone camera picture so far- this is the international space station zipping past Venus. The phone camera was in video mode, taking 60 frames per second. For this image, I just stacked every other frame together, so this image covers less than 1/2 a second as it skimmed through the field of view. It was a pretty hot evening here in the desert, so Venus is pretty distorted by the heat waves and turbulent air; Venus is also overexposed, but the ISS was the real target. Took some planning, and I had to be in the exact right place at the exact time, but it turned out well. Just amazes me that you can delineate the basic shape of the ISS, from almost 600 miles away in this case, with a cell phone on the eyepiece of a small scope. The technology nowadays is just amazing.

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davenn, NTL2009 and DennisN