June 19th, 2017, 12:45 a.m. local time
It was a hasty session under non-ideal conditions, and I was very tired, but I wanted to try capturing Saturn with my 10″ Dobsonian and DSLR camera. I have the Jupiter settings down fairly pat, so now it is time to start honing in on taking good pictures of the sixth planet.
A few factors became obvious when I started. First, since Saturn is much lower towards the horizon, I am going to have to use my counterweights (a bunch of “C” clamps) to keep the Dobsonian from falling over with the camera attached. For last night, I just held the tube up manually. I only got about 1,100 shaky frames across back-to-back videos.
Next, it will be a challenge to get the ISO and exposures right, since Saturn is fainter than Jupiter. With Jupiter, I could achieve focus by setting the camera’s option to overexposure and then focusing in on Jupiter’s moons. Titan seems too faint for this focusing method to work.
Last, it is going to be a bit uncomfortable over the next month trying to photograph in Summer conditions. I have come to love the Winter for stargazing – no bugs and you can just layer up.
Forecasted viewing is pretty bad for the rest of the week. The only good news is that Saturn is still appearing a bit too late in the evening, as I must wait until after midnight to view it due to the tall Southeast obstructions in my way. Hopefully things will look up in a few weeks.