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Finally Back in the Observatory:
Imaged NGC3190 and NGC5248 Galaxies

Posted: 21 April 2012

I have been away (too long) on a trip to the East Coast of the United States, with many stops along the way. One night, we stayed in a hotel room that had these two lithographs on the wall:



They provided some astronomy withdrawal symptoms relief!

While in New York City, I visited the B&H SuperStore:


Wow, what a camera store! Three floors of cameras, accessories, and other photography gear, and even telescopes. Great customer support. The store was very crowded on the Wednesday morning that I was there. I had been contemplating getting a programmable remote for my Nikon D7000 DSLR for use when doing long duration astrophotography. I decided on the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote. I'll have a full review online soon.

Later on the trip we visited the "Old Sturbridge Village" in Massachusetts and the "Strong National Museum of Play" in Rochester, NY. At OSV I saw a telescope circa 1800:


And at the Museum of Play, I saw this telescope:


Some more photos from this trip should be posted later today on "Our Vacations" web page. After the 13 hour drive home on Tuesday I had planned a short session in the observatory for Wednesday night, 18 April 2012, with just a few activities. Unfortunately, clouds appeared mid-afternoon and stuck around. The clouds were gone on Friday, 20 April, and I opened the observatory at 2233 MST, 69°F. This would be a short session due to a day long set of other activities.

I decided to use the wired AutoStar II for this session as I had not used it for about 18 months since getting the Wireless AutoStar II handcontroller. It worked fine, even after such a long period of non-use. At 2245 MST, viewed Mars at 77X. No details were visible. The view was much better at 206X, with several dark areas, the North Polar Cap, and a sunrise cloud on the limb visible. Seeing was not quite good enough to use 364X. Then viewed Saturn at 133X and 206X; nice view of the planet, cloud bands, and the Ring System. Four moons were easily seen.

At 2306 MST, I checked on Supernova 2012aw in the M95 galaxy using 77X. The supernova was still visible in the 8" LX200-ACF. I then slewed to NGC3190, a small, faint galaxy. This galaxy made news as the desktop wallpaper image for the OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion) beta release. Viewed it at 77X. Three other small galaxies were visible in the FOV. Using SkySafari on the Mac I determined that these were NGC3185, NGC3187, and NGC3193.

I next did some work with the ShutterBoss remote prior to beginning imaging. Following that, I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus using the Off-Axis Guider. I did a focus test on the star Regulus using the Bahtinov Mask. I also SYNCed the AutoStar on Regulus. Then returned to NGC3190 and did a couple of framing test exposures and found a good guide star. This is a slightly cropped, guided, 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure (using the ShutterBoss remote):


NGC3190 is the galaxy left and below center. NGC3187 is the spiral galaxy slightly up and to the left from NGC3190. NGC3193 is the featureless galaxy near the bottom of the image. NGC3185 is the nice barred spiral galaxy above center and to the right.

My next imaging target was NGC5248, another small faint galaxy. Did two framing test exposures and found an excellent guide star. This is a cropped, guided, 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure (with the ShutterBoss):


I ended imaging for this night at 0025 MST. Viewed the NGC5248 galaxy at 77X. Good with averted vision. I then viewed the Omega Centauri globular cluster and the Centauri A galaxy at 77X. It was nice to view these two excellent southern sky objects again.

Closed the observatory at 0050 MST, 69°F. It was great to be back home and spend some time in the observatory after about a month of no observing.

Comments are welcome; use the Comments section below, or you can Email Me. Thanks.

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