First light – and a neat way to plate solve the moon

I’ve taken shots of the moon before with my bargain-basement Bresser Mikrokular camera, but just invested in a T7C camera – a cheapo version of the ZWO ASI120MC.

So, still pretty much bargain basement, but this is mainly for guiding when shooting DSOs, which the Bresser isn’t sensitive enough to do. Mono is usually best for guiding, but I got the colour version so I had the added flexibility of taking lunar and planetary images if I fancied it.

It took a bit of wrestling but I finally managed to get a shot of the moon – 5000 frames captured in SharpCap Pro and stacked and processed in Registax. Nothing too fancy but a good start.

It’s the Moon alright – but which bit? Click for full size.

However, now I’m all over plate solving from my DSO work, it did occur to me: which bit of the moon did I actually capture? Can you plate solve the moon?

Turns out you can’t. The most common advice is to download an atlas and look for it. But, given that I’m very lazy, I found a workaround: use Google’s Image Search.

So, on uploading my image, I get absolutely loads of results back telling me it’s the Sinus Iridum plain.

Sorted! Or, should I say, solved!

It’s so darned clever. It’s almost generalised plate solving: show it any image and it shows you other similar images, which means that it works for pretty much any other kind of astronomy image too.

So, you can’t solve the moon, but you can ask Google to do the next best thing.

Nerdy stuff:

  • 5,000 frames at 1280×960 resolution
  • Hardware: Sky-Watcher 130PDS scope (F5), Sky-Watcher NEQ6 mount, T7C camera with Meade 3x Barlow
  • Software: capture with SharpCap Pro, stacking and post-processing in Registax, plate solving using Google!