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Imaging: Sunspot AR1504 Complex, Saturn, Pluto;
Observing: Cygnus DSOs

Posted: 18 June 2012

I had planned to open the observatory Saturday night, 16 June, but our monsoon season got an early start. An unforecasted thunderstorm moved in from the southeast during the afternoon, with a lot of thunder and rain (0.24" in 45 minutes with a storm total of 0.27"). The skies remained cloudy overnight.

Opened the observatory Sunday, 17 June, at 1700 MST, 115°F. The sky was mostly clear but there was a breeze blowing. I set up for solar viewing with the Meade 8" LX200-ACF using the Orion White Light Solar Filter and the Coronado PST. At 1710 MST, viewed the sunspot complex AR1504, 77X. I then viewed the sun with the PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope, 27X. Six prominences were clearly seen, even though the sun was low in the sky. I attempted to do eyepiece projection imaging using the PST 12.5mm eyepiece and the Nikon D7000 DSLR, but could not reach a focus with this combination. I did acquire these images through the 8", prime focus (1/1000sec, ISO 1000) and eyepiece projection (160X, 1/250sec, ISO 3200), respectively:



At 1740 MST, I did some more sunspot viewing, 77X and 206X. The complex was very impressive, with lots of details visible.

At 1748 MST, SYNCed on the star Spica, then viewed Saturn, 77X. Sunset would not occur for another 1 hour 45 minutes, so it was neat seeing Saturn this early.

I temporarily closed the observatory at 1800 MST and then re-opened at 1913 MST.

At 1918 MST, viewed Mercury, 77X and 206X. Then Saturn, 77X and 133X, beginning at 1927 MST. At 1949 MST, Titan became visible using 133X. At 1952 MST, Tethys and Rhea appeared. Then at 1956 MST, Dione was visible. At 2001 MST, I began setting up for Saturn imaging using the iPhone 4 and MX-1 camera adapter. This image is a single exposure, 444X:


This image is a stack of 2892 frames (from a 2 minute video recording), 444X:


Ended imaging at 2015 MST and began trying to see the Saturn moon Enceladus using 206X, 133X, and 77X. No success this night.

Beginning at 2125 MST, I began observing DSOs in the constellation of Cygnus, 77X: NGC6819 (Foxhead Cluster, open cluster), NGC6826 (planetary nebula), NGC6888 (Crescent Nebula, using a O-III filter helped), M29 (open cluster), NGC6960 (Veil Nebula, O-III really helped), IC5067 (Pelican Nebula), NGC6992 (diffuse nebula, O-III helped), M39 (open cluster), and IC5146 (diffuse nebula, O-III helped). Ended the tour at 2200 MST.

At 2206 MST, SYNCed on Antares, then went to Pluto and began identifying stars in the 77X field-of-view using SkySafari 3 Pro on the iPhone. At 2215 MST, I identified what I think was Pluto using averted vision, although it was very difficult to be certain I was actually seeing Pluto. I SYNCed on Pluto's location. I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + visual back and began imaging at 2230 MST. Did a focus test on Antares using the Bahtinov Mask. This first image is a screen capture from SkySafari showing Pluto's location:


This next image shows Pluto as captured on 15 June 2012 (left) and on 17 June 2012 (right), both 1 minute, ISO 6400, unguided exposures:


The next image is a "blink" comparison to show Pluto's motion over 48 hours:


Closed the observatory at 2250 MST, 79°F.

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

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