Cassiopeia Observatory logo

Critters, ISS, Cat's Eye Nebula

Last updated: 2 July 2011

Welcome Photos Videos Equipment Links Data

Friday, 1 July 2011, I opened the observatory at 1808 MST, 112°F, to clear skies. Before powering up the telescope I took this photo of a bunny near the observatory:


At 1820 MST, powered up the telescope, went to Spica, focused, then went to Mercury. The view of the planet was good in the 26mm and 9.7mm eyepieces, but seeing was not good enough for the 5.5mm eyepiece. I then updated the TLE data for the night's first ISS pass. The data was only a few hours old so hopefully it would be good. At 1901 MST, left Mercury and went to Saturn. Nice view in the 15mm eyepiece.

As the sun was setting, I noticed a large Quail family coming towards the observatory. I grabbed this quick photo:


At 1940 MST, I began preparing for the ISS pass. I re-did the AutoStar alignment (One Star) and then set up the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender. Slewed to Vega, tweaked the finderscope alignment, and did a focus test on Vega with the Bahtinov Mask. At 1957 MST, did a test video recording. At 2010 MST, I set up for tracking and began waiting for the pass to begin. This would not be a very good pass as it would be low along the northern horizon. But it would be a long pass, hopefully providing good chances to capture the ISS. At 2022 MST, I picked up the ISS. I was a little late as it rose out of the trees. But tracking was fairly good once I got started, especially during the second half of the long pass. The HD video recording was done with a manual exposure of 1/2000sec, ISO 1600. When I reviewed the video on the computer, there were many frames with the ISS visible but the ISS was underexposed. As this was my first attempt using the manual video mode that actually captured the ISS, and even though the ISS was blurry due to the low altitude above the horizon, I was pleased that the test worked. Here is one frame:


My next attempt will use exposure settings of 1/2000sec, ISO 3200. Unfortunately, that might be awhile. There are some good ISS passes coming up but the Monsoon storm pattern is now setting up and there are storms forecast nearly every day for the next week.

After the pass was over, I saw the first of two Kissing Bugs; both were terminated. At 2045 MST, I noticed that clouds had begun to appear low in the south through east. They appeared to be getting closer over a period of a few minutes. At 2055 MST, I began a series of exposures of NGC6543, Cat's Eye Nebula, at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender. I had to refocus on Vega; once I did that, the nebula was visible in the camera viewfinder, even at this higher magnification. (On the previous session I had imaged NGC6543 at just prime focus.) Here is a cropped, 20 second, unguided, ISO 3200, exposure:


At 2115 MST, I looked up from the telescope and saw that the clouds had now arrived at the zenith! I ended imaging, removed the camera, attached the 26mm eyepiece, and tried to view M63, the Sunflower Galaxy, in the northern sky. But the clouds beat me to it.

Closed the observatory at 2130 MST, 84°F.

As I closed the dome I saw that the praying mantis (seen during my previous session) was back:



Go to the previous report.

Return to the Cassiopeia Observatory Welcome Page.

Copyright ©2011 Michael L. Weasner /