I took the first photograph late yesterday evening (27 May, 11:37 p.m.). I had thought that the sky was too hazy, but I looked out fairly late and saw that the moon was not too badly obscured.
I took the second photograph early this evening (28 May, 7:00 p.m.) while the moon was just climbing above some trees in our neighbors’ yards. The original full-sized image showed some very blurry foliage in the lower right corner; I cropped it out, and then I played with the image in Lightroom to create an almost black background. I increased the contrast quite a bit, as the sky was fairly hazy.
The second photograph shows the moon “lying on its back.” Both images show approximately the orientation of the moon at the time I took the photographs.
I took both photographs with my Orion StarMax 127. This scope uses a Maksutov-Cassegrain design, which has a folded light path: that is, the light passes through a glass meniscus at the front of the tube; reflects from a curved mirror at the base of the tube; reflects off a mirrored spot on the back of the meniscus at the front of the tube; and then passes through a hole in the main mirror to reach the eyepiece or (in this case) the camera.
Maksutov-Cassegrain (and Schmidt-Cassegrain) designs avoid the chromatic aberration problems that afflict achromatic refractors, and they also avoid the problem of off-axis distortion that affects Newtonian reflectors. (These designs are known as catadioptric: they use both lenses and mirrors.) Catadioptric designs also use much shorter tubes. The StarMax has a very compact tube, but its focal length exceeds that of my Meade AR5 127mm f/9 achromatic refractor (StarMax, 1540mm; Meade AR5, 1143mm).
I originally bought the StarMax back in 2001. I picked up my Meade AR5 in 2007. Because both are five-inch scopes, they should perform about equally well. But I think the Meade is actually a bit better scope. I think the images are a trifle crisper. But I need to take more photos with both scopes before I decide. I had better viewing the night I took out the Meade than I’ve had the last two nights with the StarMax.
Below is a photograph of the StarMax with my Samsung NX300 camera mounted on it. Note that I had brought the scope indoors; the tripod legs are not extended, so the mount looks a bit stubby.