Comet Garradd, Pleiades, MoonPosted: 19 September 2011
The sky was still clear Sunday, 18 September 2011. After the NFL game was over, I opened the observatory at 2055 MST, 75°F. First viewed was M13, the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, with the 8" LX200-ACF. I tried to image it with the iPhone 4 using the Slow Shutter app. No luck. Slewed to Neptune and tried to image it. Again, no luck. At 2152 MST, slewed to Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) and viewed it with the 26mm eyepiece (77X). A nice coma and tail were visible. I began setting up for D7000 DSLR prime focus + Off-Axis Guider imaging. Did a focus test on Vega using the Bahtinov Mask, followed by some framing tests on the comet. I could just barely see the comet in the D7000 viewfinder. Captured this 60 second, ISO 6400, image:
By 2234 MST, the eastern sky was beginning to brighten from the rising waning moon. I ended DSLR imaging. I added the focal reducer + visual back to the telescope along with a visual back. Viewed M45, the Pleiades, with 26mm and 40mm eyepieces. The 40mm + focal reducer provided a nice low magnification view of the stars. Set up for iPhone imaging using the MX-1 afocal adapter. Slewed to the moon to use it as an optical alignment aid. I then discovered why I could not see M13 and Neptune earlier: somehow I had toggled the Camera app to use the front camera. Duh. After getting the optical alignment done, slewed back to the Pleiades and captured a portion of it with the "Slow Shutter" app, 30sec, EV+2.0, exposure, afocal 40mm + focal reducer:
Removed the focal reducer and switched to a 26mm eyepiece for lunar imaging with the iPhone. Then waited awhile for the moon to rise higher in the sky. Began imaging at 2336 MST. This is an afocal, 26mm eyepiece, Apple Camera app, image:
Added a 3X TeleXtender and took a series of higher magnification images:
I then tried again to image Neptune; no luck. It was just too faint. That means that Uranus is the faintest (and furthest) planet I've been able to image with the iPhone.
Slewed back to the moon at 0005 MST and did some lunar terminator exploring with the 5.5mm (364X), 9.7mm (206X), and 15mm (133X) eyepieces. Seeing was not very good but there were still some nice views. Then went to Jupiter and viewed it with the 15mm, 9.7mm, and 5.5mm eyepieces. Three moons were visible. Using the 5.5mm eyepiece, disks of Ganymede and Callisto were easily seen. I tried pushing the magnification with the 3X TeleXtender and 5.5mm and 9.7mm eyepieces. Jupiter was interesting at these higher magnifications, but seeing was not good enough for clear views. The best view of Jupiter was with the 9.7mm (206X) eyepiece by itself; at times, excellent details were visible in the cloud bands.
Observatory was closed at 0050 MST, 70°F.
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