Venus and Crescent Moon, NGC278 Galaxy
Posted: 26 January 2012
After my long and successful imaging session on 19 January, clouds moved in on Friday, 20 January, and stayed until Wednesday, 25 January. On my 14 January report, I mentioned that my new HH:MM:SS clock for the observatory had failed. The replacement arrived on Wednesday, 25 January. After I opened the observatory at 1815 MST, 56°F, I set up the new clock. There were some clouds in the sky. At 1823 MST, viewed Venus and then the crescent moon at 77X. Their not-very-close conjunction looked like this in the western sky (taken with an iPhone 4):
Here's another view (taken with a D7000 DSLR, f/4.5, 1/10sec, 102mm, ISO 500, handheld):
I did a tour of the crescent moon at 206X. Seeing was not very good due to the high thin clouds. I checked the forecast sites to see if there had been any updates. Here is what they showed (7Timer! on the left and Clear Sky Chart on the right):
It was beginning to look like 7Timer! would be more correct.
At 1850 MST, viewed Jupiter at 206X and 77X. Four moons and the Great Red Spot were visible.
I then went to NGC278, a small faint galaxy in Cassiopeia, with the plan of re-imaging it. I was not happy with the image I acquired on my last session and wanted to do a better guiding job during the exposure. At 1900 MST, the galaxy was clearly visible at 77X. I continued to monitor the clouds. At 1907 MST, I decided to begin imaging preparations in the hope of beating some clouds that were approaching Cassiopeia. I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus of the 8" LX200-ACF using the Off-Axis Guider. I did a focus test image using the star Capella with the Bahtinov Mask. I then SYNCed on the star Shedir (Alp Cas) and slewed to NGC278 to look for a guide star in the 12mm illuminated reticle eyepiece. By the time I located a good guide star, a bank of thin clouds had reached Cassiopeia. At 1946 MST, I did a framing test exposure as a data point for future NGC278 imaging. As it turned out, this was the only image of NGC278 I was able to acquire this night. Here it is (1 minute, ISO 6400, full-frame, unguided):
Even with this short exposure, the galaxy was captured (upper left). Amazing that a consumer-level DSLR can do that.
After I completed the above exposure, clouds covered much of the sky. I decided to close up for the night.
Closed the observatory at 2010 MST, 49°F.
I checked the new clock at 0705 MST, 26 January, and it was still working. The overnight low had been in the mid-30s.
Go to the previous report.
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