March 4th, 2017, 9:45 p.m. local time
I almost missed it, but earlier in the evening I remembered that the star Aldebaran was going to come close to the Moon. It was also supposed to occult behind the Moon. So looking from my window at about 8:15pm, I noticed that Aldebaran was in fact very close to the Moon, and that I would have an excellent chance tonight to photograph the two together!
Finally, I thought, I would use my telescope to capture the Moon plus one other famous object in the same picture. It’s not Jupiter or Saturn, but I still think it was pretty cool. And as a side note, this is a good reason to have a quick-setup telescope available. I had everything readied outside within minutes, then giving the telescope’s mirror about 20 minutes to cool down to the frigid outside temperature (more than enough time for a 5-inch scope).
And so I took well over 100 images for over an hour as Aldebaran slowly moved towards the Moon. I created an animated .gif that you have already seen at the top. Directly above is a still shot I took with my camera’s Auto mode. For my Pro mode captures (which you see in the animated .gif) I used ISO 100 and an exposure of 1/90, and all with my 40mm eyepiece.
It was a little nerve wracking as Aldebaran was about to disappear, for though I was video taping it, I had to keep adjusting the telescope as the sky moved. Fortunately, I did capture the few seconds when Aldebaran dimmed out as it went behind the Moon’s black disc (recommend muting the audio so you don’t keep hearing the ruffling of my coat):
A key benefit from tonight is that I now have a good frame of reference for how much extra space I can see around the Moon through this particular telescope setup, so that I will be well prepared for the next event.