ETX-125AT Lunar & Planetary Observing & iPhone Imaging
Posted: 4 May 2012
The observatory was opened Thursday, 3 May 2012, at 1800 MST, 93°F. The sky was mostly clear, but there were some clouds in the west through northeast. I set up the Meade ETX-125AT on the observatory patio:
I would use the ETX-125AT for lunar and planetary observing and imaging. I did not use the 8" LX200-ACF this night. I powered up the ETX at 1828 MST, still over 30 minutes before sunset. I did a fake AutoStar star alignment, just assuming that the two alignment stars were centered, as no stars were currently visible in the bright sky. I then did a GOTO Venus; it was placed just outside of the finderscope FOV. I attached the iPhone 4 to the ETX for imaging using the Magnilux MX-1 afocal adapter. This cropped image (overexposed) was taken at 73X at 1840 MST:
I then did some lunar observing at 73X, 127X, 196X, and 345X. All were excellent views, even though I exceeded the theoretical maximum magnification of 250X.
At 1914 MST, clouds were now in all directions around the horizon. I decided to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES, which I had not done on the ETX-125 in a long time.
At 1930 MST, I resumed iPhone imaging with the MX-1 adapter and took these photos, 73X and 146X:
I ended imaging and did a real Easy Two Star Align with the AutoStar. Then a GOTO Venus; much better alignment. Then GOTO Saturn; placed in 26mm eyepiece FOV. One moon was visible at 73X: Titan. I switched to 127X; seeing was not very good now due to clouds over much of the sky, but I did pick up the moon Rhea. Switched to 196X; no additional moons were seen, but Cassini Division was visible. Tried 345X, but seeing was not good enough.
At 2010 MST, viewed Mars near the zenith in the ETX-125AT at 73X. The sunrise cloud was brightly visible. At 127X, the North Polar Cap, sunrise cloud, and a dark area were visible. At 196X, there was a better view of the NPC, cloud, and dark area. Using 345X there was a surprisingly good view of the NPC, cloud, and dark area. And the gibbous phase was clearly seen. Viewing Mars near the zenith really helped.
I then tried some iPhone imaging of Saturn in the ETX. However, all the images taken with the Camera app were overexposed.
At 2038 MST, I decided to end the session for the night due to the clouds. But it had been a fun and enjoyable evening using the ETX-125AT once again.
Closed the observatory at 2058 MST, 70°F. Just as I was closing the observatory, there was an area-wide power outage. It lasted 3 hours. Too bad it didn't happen during new moon!
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