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Catchup Reports: Magnification Tests, "Super Moon"

Posted: 7 May 2012

This has been a stressful past few days. As I mentioned at the end of the previous report, we experienced multiple power outages Thursday night, 3 May 2012, over a period of three hours. At some point when the power came back on erratically, our house intercom system was damaged. We have a "whole house surge protection system" but something bad got through. The system will be repaired by the original installer and we'll file a claim for reimbursement with our Federal Government run electric utility company. But worse than the intercom failure was what manifested itself mid-day on Friday, 4 May: my primary laptop computer (a MacBook Pro 17") developed a major malfunction. Files could not be saved and the system would not boot up. I have backups, but had to spend the next three days troubleshooting and restoring. It took that long because the internal hard disk was so sick. Apparently, it was damaged during the power outages even though it was connected to a UPS. I'm back up and running with the computer using an external boot drive. Since I'm not certain what all was damaged in the computer or exactly what caused the hard disk failure, I've decided to replace the computer. In the meantime, I'll continue to use it and hopefully it won't fail again.

Today's report will catch up on two nights in the observatory. Both sessions were times of de-stressing and very therapeutic.

The observatory was opened Friday, 4 May 2012, at 1809 MST, 95°F. I was running on only 4 hours of sleep after the power outages of the night before and the problems it created. So, this was planned to be a short session in the observatory. At 1824 MST, viewed Venus, 77X. It was a lovely crescent. I then did some magnification tests using various accessories with the 8" LX200-ACF and D7000 DSLR. The results may surprise you. The images are uncropped and at the same scale:

Prime Focus

Prime Focus + 2X Barlow Lens

Prime Focus + 3X TeleXtender

Yes, the 2X "Shorty Style" Barlow Lens provided slightly more magnification at prime focus than the standard 3X TeleXtender.

Eyepiece Projection 9mm Eyepiece

Eyepiece Projection 9mm Eyepiece + 2X Barlow Lens

Eyepiece Projection 9mm Eyepiece + 3X TeleXtender

And yes, once again the 2X Shorty Barlow Lens provided slightly more magnification. What really surprises me about these reults are that they are the exact opposite of what I see visually. Using the 3X TeleXtender with an eyepiece definitely shows way more magnification than the same eyepiece with the 2X Barlow Lens. Interesting.

I ended the tests and took this photo of the setting sun:


Sometime later I took this photo of the moon rising over the hill to the east. This was about 25 hours before the Full Moon (which some were calling the "Super Moon").


At 1937 MST, I took a quick look at Saturn, 77X, which was low in the southeastern sky but just above a tree. At 1944 MST, I took a quick look at the moon, 77X, still shining through some tree limbs. A very slight terminator was visible. I decided to end the session as the next day would be a busy one with lots of computer recovery work to do.

Closed the observatory at 1953 MST, 74°F.

After a long day of dealing with the computer problem (which has been temporarily resolved), the observatory was opened on Saturday, 5 May, at 1951 MST, 77°F. There were a lot of clouds around this night but I hoped to photograph the Full Moon (aka "Super Moon"), which was to occur at 2035 MST.

Viewed Venus, 77X, at 2001 MST. It was very bright against the dark sky background. I then added the focal reducer and switched to the visual back. I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer and slewed the 8" LX200-ACF to the moon, which was still behind the hill to the east. At 2025 MST, 10 minutes before precisely full, the moon was in a clear spot between some tree limbs so I took this (cropped) image of the Full Moon, 1/320sec, ISO 100:


The moon was still low in the sky when the above photo was taken, hence it is not as sharp as I would have preferred. I removed the focal reducer and switched to the star diagonal. At 2112 MST, the moon was out of the tree and a little higher in the sky. I took this (cropped) image with an iPhone 4, afocal 40mm eyepiece, Camera app, MX-1 afocal adapter:


I completed the iPhone imaging just before clouds covered the moon. At 2115 MST, I did some lunar viewing at 77X + moon filter. The moon was still behind some thin clouds, but the view was still pretty nice. I tried using a 40mm eyepiece (50X) but the moon was now behind some much thicker clouds. I decided to close up.

Closed the observatory at 2142 MST, 69°F.

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