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Saturn, M51 Supernova

Last updated: 24 June 2011

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Thursday, 23 June, about mid-day, some high thin clouds began appearing and the winds began kicking up. The clouds went away mid-afternoon but the wind continued. Fortunately, it calmed down as sunset approached. Opened the observatory at 1904 MST, 101°F. I viewed Saturn in the 26mm (77X) and 15mm (133X) eyepieces. I then did some iPhone 4 afocal imaging of Saturn. Both stills and videos were done. This first image was a single frame from a video recording, afocal 9mm + 3X TeleXtender (666X), using the Magnilux MX-1 iPhone Afocal Adapter. It was edited (rotated and cropped) on the iPhone using the Adobe "PS Express" app. The image here was further cropped in GraphicConverter on the Mac.


At 2000 MST, I ended iPhone imaging and began viewing Saturn in the 9.7mm (206X) eyepiece. Seeing was excellent and the view was very good. Four moons were visible: Titan, Rhea, Dione, and Tethys. In the 15mm (133X) eyepiece, I picked up Iapetus, well away from the plane of the other moons. I tried for Enceladus, but it was too close to the Ring to be visible. I took this next image with the iPhone 4 using the Slow Shutter app, 30 seconds, EV+2.0, afocal 9mm (222X). It shows the five moons.


At 2037 MST, I began getting ready to image M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, at prime focus of the 8" LX200-ACF using the D7000 DSLR. At 2045 MST, M51 was just visible in the 26mm eyepiece against a still bright sky. At 2103 MST, I did a focus test using the star Dubhe and the Bahtinov Mask. I then did a series of 1 and 2 minute exposures at various ISO settings. As the images were unguided, trailing was evident in all the images. This 1 minute, ISO 6400, clearly shows the supernova.


Compare this image with the M51 image on 2 June and you will see that the supernova has brightened.

Closed the observatory at 2140 MST, 81°F. Only one Kissing Bug was seen during the evening and it was terminated.


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