Planetary Alignment Event on March 2018

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Next astronomical event will be the alignment between the planetary objects Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Moon and the star Antares.

Take the chance to do a wide field photography or study the planets through either telescopes or binoculars to try and see their features.

The event will happen on March 7th, 2018 at 4 AM (PST) and can also be observable on the 8th of March as well.

Below I’ve labeled all the celestial objects that will line up.

  1. Saturn
  2. Mars
  3. Antares
  4. Jupiter
  5. Moon
Planetary Alignment, March 2018


Niklas Henricson

A long cold and humid night but it was worth it

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I went off just outside Mather airport and started to set my telescope up. Unfortunately I didn’t have both of my telescopes with me so I couldn’t broadcast live. With me I had my  William Optics Megrez 72 APO.

The night was very humid, cold but there wasn’t any wind at all. As the eclipse was progressing the moon was turning more and more red/orange.

  • ISO-100 and 200 with Canon EOS 50D
  • Exposure Time: See each image for details
  • Telescope: William Optics Megrez 72mm f/6 Doublet Apo Refractor
  • Mount: Sky Watcher EQ6 Pro
  • Date/Time: 1/31/2018, 3:03 to 5:42 AM (PST)
  • File Format: RAW (CR2)
  • Weather Conditions: Cloud Cover from 40% to 10%, Transparency below average, seeing average 3/5, darkness 4.4 for 0.2 hours and magnitude 4.3 at full eclipse.
  • Wind: 6 to 11 mph (Forecast), 0 to 5 mph (Actual)
  • Humidity: 85% to 90%
  • Temperature: 41° to 50° F (5° to 10° C)

The humidity was the major disrupting factor this night. I had to bring in both telescope and camera twice and put the car heater on to get rid the moisture that was on the lenses causing the images to get worse over time. Unfortunately my telescopes are not equipped with a dew heater so over time they accumulate condensation from the surrounding air.

Despite that set back the night was remarkably beautiful and quiet. Only the airfield lights and street lights kept shining in the distant background. A few curious bypassing cars stopped to see what I was doing in the darkness and took the chance to look at the spectacle themselves. I must say they were very considerate and turned off their beams to not blind me which I appreciated lots. Thank you!

The results are presented below,

To work with lunar eclipse exposure times you can use the following formula in your preparations:



  • t = exposure time
  • f = focal ratio
  • Q = lunar brightness value
  • I = ISO #

If you don’t know the focal ratio of your telescope/camera lens you can find that out by calculating f = focal length / aperture. Lunar brightness can be determined through the Danjon scale. More information on exposures and lunar brightness visit Mr Eclipse website here. Fred Espenak’s table breaks it down very straight forward and simple right here.


Niklas Henricson

First images from Lunar Eclipse in Sacramento

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These are the first images now from Sacramento as the eclipse is currently on-going.


Niklas Henricson

Sky-Watcher SynGuider Firmware Update

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I wrote a tutorial for updating the firmware on a Sky-Watcher SynGuider. If you have more questions or feedback please feel free to get in touch with me. I hope this comes to use and helps out people to understand the steps needed for the updates.

Sky-Watcher SynGuider



Niklas Henricson

Casing for telescope mounts

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I must say this was one of the best gifts I got for my birthday by my wife. It is a Condition 1 – Airtight/Watertight Case #839 with Foam. I absolutely needed one for my EQ6 Pro mount! For years I’ve been transporting and wrapping this mount in bed sheets and thick bed covers to provide safe transportation to and from my observation sites.

The mount was also transferred by sea all the way from Sweden intact. I had to pay lots for insurance so that all optics could be replaced if something happened.

This is a-must-have if you don’t know how to provide a safe casing for your telescope mounts that are originally shipped inside cardboard boxes from vendors.

My wife got this case from Amazon for just $93.60 ($103.37 if you’re not an Amazon Prime customer). Needless to say, this is just as nice as a Pelican case without the Pelican price. A real Pelican case would cost nearly double the price $176.28 for an equivalent type of case.

The interior dimensions for the Condition 1 case are, 21.91 x 16.96 x 8.41 inches.

So a big thank you goes to wifey for being very thoughtful about my hobby!

Niklas Henricson

Birthday and gifts

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On my birthday my beloved wife made me the most amazing present an astrophotographer could wish for. She took the composite image of the Great American Eclipse in Oregon last summer, printed it out on a 16 x 20 inches poster and finally framed it! Now it’ll decorate our wall to remind us of an amazing experience from our solar eclipse trip to Corvallis, OR.

Thank you my love!

Eclipse Composite
Composite image of Great American Eclipse 2017

Niklas Henricson

Cosmic Watch – App of the Year

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Screenshot_20171109-184948There are many apps that went through my download lists over the years, but none that have drawn my full attention so far. When it comes to astronomy apps available around for Android, iOS and Windows, there’s a huge variety in the app stores (I’ve mentioned a few in the past). As matter of fact I’ve had many thoughts on building my very own to use out in the field in order to help find my favorite objects, guide my telescope, create log book entries, search in databases, etc. But nevertheless there has never been enough time to build something worth keeping a long time. Before you know it you either loose your phone, get a new one and loose whatever these apps have stored locally in their internal databases on the phone.

One day as I was browsing my emails doing my weekly clean up, I came across an email with subject “SWISS Made Cosmic Watch For Astronomy in 3D”. In the beginning I thought it was one of these ads I receive letting me know of what cool gadgets I can buy. Ads that normally find me through diverted AI search bots checking at my age, my interests, location and places I’ve visited on internet. Interestingly though, Google didn’t toss that particular e-mail in my spam folder and so I opened it up.

The very first sentence made me understand it wasn’t one of the regular salesmen or spam bots that greeted me, but instead a person who was impressed by my blog. I kept reading and he asked me to evaluate his app.

For starters I didn’t expect much until he gave me a redeem code to download his app for free. The download finished just before I had to leave for work and I didn’t have much time to look at it before it was lunch time. Needless to say my jaw almost dropped once I switched it on.
In all honesty I never seen such advanced graphics and such an awesome implementation of a mobile device app before. And mind you, I’ve worked as a software engineer for almost 20 years now.

Among the many features available, the ones I got mostly impressed about were the ability to see the planet positions over time both in the future but also in the past. You could look at the planet position on the day of your birth, or other historical events down to the seconds level.

The modes available can display the position of constellations in night sky at certain point of time or real time in the day, make you zoom into features on earth’s surface and add favorites to re-visit something.

Well done Cosmic Watch and big thanks for letting astronomy fans access such great work!

This app exists for both Android and iOS devices

Cosmic Watch is developed by Celestial Dynamics Ltd.

Niklas Henricson
Sacramento, California