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Moon, Venus, ISS, and Copernicus in 3D

Posted: 2 May 2012

Cassiopeia Observatory was opened Tuesday, 1 May, at 1807 MST, 93°F, to mostly clear skies. However, a long band of clouds was along the horizon from west to north. This cloud band had been in nearly the same location all day as part of a weather front. I worried that it would interfere with ISS imaging planned for later. Took a quick look at Venus, which was above the cloud band, and then the moon, 77X. Next, I updated the ISS TLE for the night's pass.

At 1842 MST, I took this photo of the waxing gibbous moon through the 8" LX200-ACF with the D7000 DSLR, prime focus + focal reducer + visual back, 1/400sec, ISO 100:


I removed the focal reducer and visual back, switched to the diagonal, mounted the D7000 at prime focus in preparation for the ISS pass. Focused on the moon, locked the focus, and did a HD video test recording. I then checked the finderscope alignment using Venus; made a slight adjustment. I then did an HD video recording of Venus, 1/2000sec, ISO 2000. This is a stack (using Keith's Image Stacker) of 285 frames and cropped:


At 1855 MST, I was ready for the ISS to start at 1930 MST. The cloud band was still in the same location and might prevent seeing the ISS at the start of the visible pass. I planned to start the AutoStar tracking on time regardless of whether or not I could see the ISS. As it turned out, the clouds did not prevent seeing the ISS at AOS. Tracking was not perfect but was pretty good and I was able to easily keep the ISS centered in the finderscope for most of the pass. The path of the ISS was from just above the northwest horizon to the southeast horizon and reached 43° altitude at its highest point in the sky. Most frames of the HD video, 1/2000sec, ISO 2000, showed the space station. Here are six (cropped) views of the ISS from near the start (left) as it was low in the sky, through mid-pass (middle), to near the end of the pass (right) when it was again low in the sky:


Compare the images above to the images from the 29 April 2012 ISS pass, when the space station passed near the zenith. (This night's ISS pass was the last favorable one for awhile.)

At 1948 MST, I took a quick look at Saturn and Mars, 77X. I then did a tour over the moon at 206X. Seeing was not as good as on the previous night.

Closed the observatory at 2010 MST, 71°F.

In my recent Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote review, I mentioned using an old electric shaver leather case to hold the remote components. Well, I located an even better case: an old Apple Newton MessagePad leather case that I have. Its size holds the components better and it has better padding.

On my previous report, I posted a photo of the Crater Copernicus. Bill Dillon (@wdillon) tweeted a photo he had taken at about the same time from Houston, TX (930 miles from Cassiopeia Observatory). I edited the two images, resulting in this image. Use the "fusion technique" (cross your eyes) to merge the two images into a single 3D view. You can actually see some vertical relief in the image.


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