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New Observatory Clock, DSO Observing

Posted: 11 January 2012

The sky was partly cloudy Tuesday night, 10 January, but I wanted to try for some DSOs anyway. Opened the observatory at 1802 MST, 60°F.

On my 25 December 2011 report, I mentioned that I might have found a nice digital clock for the observatory to replace a 20 year old alarm clock with dim red digits but that only showed HH:MM. I ordered the new clock on 26 December, and after a delay due to the holidays, it arrived on 10 January 2012. The new clock, the "Elgin 3451E Pick Your Color LCD Alarm Clock" shows HH:MM:SS, as seen here set up in my observatory:



It has a battery backup, which will be very useful considering the frequent power outages that our US government run electric utility company experiences. the clock can display in one of several colors, although I expect to just leave it on red. The display is slightly brighter than I had hoped, and unlike my previous clock, has no dimmer switch. However, it is not too bright for use in the observatory and I do not expect to need to cover the display to reduce the brightness. The only issue I had with the clock is that the calendar display set up is incorrect. I had to set the year to "11" to get the day of week correct. But that is no problem for my purposes. Now I will no longer be using a clock app on my iPhone for long duration astrophotography timing. One thing I noticed during this night's session is that the LCD is somewhat temperature sensitive. As the temperature dropped below 50°F, the digits would be slow to draw when changing. I don't expect this to be a problem on most nights.

I began observing at 1809 MST. First was Jupiter at 77X and 206X. The four Galilean Moons were visible. Then Venus at 77X. I then slewed the 8" telescope to the star Shedir (Alpha Cas) and SYNCed the alignment on it. I began waiting for twilight to end. I hoped to get several DSOs observed before the waning gibbous moon rose.

At 1840 MST, I slewed the telescope to the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. Some nebulosity was just visible at 77X. I tried using 133X but could not see any nebulosity. I then tried for IC59 and IC63, both very faint diffuse nebulae. Unfortunately, they were too faint to be seen. Next was NGC281 (the Pacman Nebula). It was large and visible at 77X. I switched to a 2" 50mm (40X) eyepiece for a better view of the nebula. The shape was very apparent with this wider field of view. Switched back to the 1.25" 26mm (77X) eyepiece and slewed to NGC185 (a satellite galaxy of M31, the Great Andromeda Galaxy). It was good, with an obvious shape, at 77X. I tried for NGC187 (another M31 satellite galaxy) but could not see it in the 8".

I then slewed to the star Aldebaran and SYNCed on it. Then viewed NGC1514 (small planetary nebula). It was "star-like" at 77X, but its disk was very obvious at 206X. Next was NGC1535 (another small planetary nebula). This one was very nice at 206X with a lot of details surprisingly visible at this high magnification.

At 1914 MST, the eastern sky was beginning to brighten from the soon-to-rise waning gibbous moon. I tried for IC418 (very small faint planetary nebula) but it was not seen. My last DSO for the night was NGC2392 (Eskimo Nebula), low in the east, at 77X. It is always a nice object. Ended DSO observing at 1925 MST.

At 2000 MST, viewed the nice double star Castor at 77X and 206X. At 2008 MST, the moon was rising over the hill to the east. At 2010 MST, I took a quick look at the moon, 206X and 77X, even though it was too low for good seeing. Then slewed to Jupiter for a final look.

Closed the observatory at 2023 MST, 46°F.


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