Jupiter and the Galilean moons

After the 2012 RAF Waddington Air Display, I felt that my Nikkor 55-300mm lens just didn’t have the reach or quality that I needed.  The replacement (Sigma 150-500mm) is an excellent lens and was sharp enough to resolve Jupiter’s larger moons, at a distance of approximately 608,800,000 kilometres (about as close as Jupiter gets to the Earth).

Click on a photo to view it at full-size. Includes some photos of our own moon…

I saw a very bright blob in the sky, near the moon, and guessed that it was probably a planet.  I took a few photos of it out of curiosity, wondering how much detail my lens could resolve.  I didn’t manage to get any nice “marble” photos of the planet, but did notice several “streaks” following the planet in my longer exposures.  After taking some short exposures of them, I realised that I was seeing moons!

Budget telescope: A Pentax/Nikon hybrid

Now that Pentax SLR cameras are a dying breed, the lenses for them go for next to nothing on eBay.  £30 later, I have six teleconverters to go with my old Hoya 75-205mm lens, in addition to a Pentax/Nikon adapter.  In short, I have a 20 metre focal length on my Nikon DSLR and while the speed/sharpness are going to be terrible, the cost is small.  While the Hoya lens is pretty good even by today’s standards (here),  this is a set-up that should make any photographer cringe:  7.2–19.7m @ f/256.

I had no problem photographing the moon – but finding the moon was quite difficult, since my tripod wobbled all over the place under the weight of all the glass above it.  Focussing the lens was also quite tricky at that distance, the lack of sharpness in the photos isn’t solely due to the amount of teleconverters that I was using.