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iPhone: Venus, Mars, and Saturn; Some Critters

Posted: 22 May 2012

I opened the observatory Monday, 21 May 2012, at 1809 MST, 106°F. The sky was clear but there were some breezes blowing. At 1815 MST, viewed the lovely crescent Venus, 77X, 206X, and 364X. I tried for the day-old moon but the sky was still too bright one hour before sunset. Returned to Venus and captured this image with the iPhone 4, afocal 154X + moon filter, 8" LX200-ACF, stack of 1364 frames using Keith's Image Stacker:


AT 1844 MST, I continued observing Venus, 133X. I then began a check of Observer Pro on the iPhone for some new DSOs to observe. I selected M100 (galaxy), M98 (galaxy), and M107 (globular cluster). I then did some more Venus imaging and observing.

At 1918 MST, I managed to catch sight of the thin day-old moon crescent, 77X, through some tree limbs. Sunset was four minutes later. I grabbed the 7x50 binoculars and focused on Venus. The crescent phase of Venus was clearly seen in the binoculars. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the thin crescent moon using the binoculars. I did see these bunnies near the observatory:


At 1943 MST, I began observing Mars. No details were visible at 77X. The view was not much better at 133X. But the view was great at 206X. Both polar caps and Syrtis Major were visible. The view was awesome at 364X. The gibbous phase was very obvious. But the best overall view was at 267X. I then began iPhone afocal imaging. This is a stack of 1094 frames, 444X + moon filter:


And then I saw the first Kissing Bug of the season:


In case you are unfamiliar with Kissing Bugs, they are a blood-sucking beetle, 1" long. They usually appear in June and so are early this year. I had been thinking of spraying for them the next day. I will now definitely be spraying Tuesday morning, 22 May! The bug in the photo was removed with "extreme prejudice".

At 2019 MST, I turned my sights to Saturn. At 77X, four moons were visible: Titan, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione. I tried for Enceladus at 133X, 206X, and 364X. No luck. I then went back to 77X and was able to finally see Enceladus. I then took care of Kissing Bug #2.

At 2032 MST, I began observing the selected DSOs for the night. That is, I began observing after taking care of Kissing Bug #3. The M100 and M98 galaxies were faintly seen at 77X. The M107 globular cluster was currently too low in the east to be seen. I returned to Mars at 2051 MST.

I then returned to Saturn for some iPhone afocal imaging. This is a stack of 1105 frames, 444X:


Cassini Division is clearly visible in the image, as it was at 267X visually.

At 2140 MST, viewed M107, globular cluster, 77X. Then went back to M98 and then M100. Both galaxies were faint but good using averted vision. All three objects have been added to my DSO imaging list.

Since I needed to spray for Kissing Bugs early the next morning, I decided to end this session.

Closed the observatory at 2208 MST, 73°F.

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

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