History of my crescent observations
Martin Elsässer, 2021-04-30
I have been doing astronomy since 1986. The lunar crescent was initially nothing special to me, i looked at a lunar eclipse here or a nice crater there.
I have always been quite interested in the technology behind telescopes and observation and cameras and thus, having a technical background.
I missed most of film based imaging, but started with the famous ToUcam and Mintron and Watec cameras for astronomy around the year 1998.
- In 2001 two friends from the Public Observatory Munich and me started this homepage, centered on our own images of the moon. We also documented many other observations here.
In 2007 i participated in the lunar crescent imaging contest of the german Interstellarum magazine. The aim here was to image the youngest possible lunar crescent. The terms of the competition did not mention anything about the time of day, so i tried to do this observation in daytime, just to have more time available than the short minutes after sunset. (A few others did this also, but not as enthusiastic.)
I won that competition by a wide margin with this observation in June 2007.
The instruments used for that observation were very badly chosen, considering the understanding we later developed. Only huge efforts in image processing made it possible to still get some images.
- In 2008 i did a deliberate effort to image the crescent close to the moment of conjunction. The technology was much better selected now so this worked very well: Observation in may 2008.
We imaged the crescent just minutes from conjunction at around 4.3° elongation from the sun, a world record at that time.
- After this success i contacted Mohammed Odeh of ICOP who was very interested and even came to Germany to see the new technique.
Understanding more of the optimal technical means, i managed to convince the programmer of the Lucam Recorder software in 2009 to add special features to allow for real time image processing for this type of observation. This allowed for real-time observation of faint crescents and was a huge improvement compared to my earlier methods. Still, an experienced user was required to get the most out of it.
In 2010 i was invited to speak at the Second ICOP conference about the new observation technique, which created a lot of interest.
After the conference i designed and built a first complete instrument for crescent imaging. This mobile instrument was quite capable and i could use it well enough. Some time later i learned that the customer found it to heavy and complex to use, never really getting great results with it.
From this i understood that ease-of-use was far more important then theoretical capabilities. I thus tried to make the whole system much easier to use. I could provide several such systems to friends and customers and they are still in use.
After simplifying and thus improving the telescope part i learned that the software was still causing problems for some users who were not very experienced. I thus started to create a dedicated software for real-time crescent imaging around 2011, which has much improved since then and made the whole approach much easier to use and more powerfull at the same time.
Since then the cameras have also improved much which allows for better results with the dedicated software...
A list of many crescent observations since 2007.