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Imaging: NGC7606 & NGC488 Galaxies,
Comet 168P, & Jupiter

Posted: 6 November 2012

Opened the observatory Monday, 5 November 2012, at 1807 MST, 75°F. Took a quick look at Mars, low in the southwest, 77X, at 1813 MST. I then began setting up for D7000 DSLR prime focus imaging. While waiting for twilight to end, I checked the iOS app "AstroAid" on my iPhone to determine the expected field-of-view (FOV) for the two DSOs I planned to image. (You can read my review of AstroAid on my ETX Site.) Here is what AstroAid showed me:

photo photo

Once twilight ended, I did a focus test on the star Fomalhaut using the Bahtinov Mask and locked the telescope focus. I decided I would first image Comet 168P/Hergenrother. I did my usual framing test exposure and then searched for a good guide star. Found one and did several exposures of the comet. I then went to NGC7606, a small faint galaxy, did a framing text exposure, found a guide star, and did a 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure. While reviewing this last image in the camera, I discovered that the focus was off. Apparently, I had accidently turned the focus knob at some point. A further check showed that the comet images were all out of focus too. I did another focus test on Fomalhaut, relocked the focus, returned to the galaxy, did a framing test, and found a good guide star. I then captured this (cropped) 5 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposure:


My next target was NGC488, a small faint galaxy. Did a framing test exposure and found a good guide star. This is a (cropped) guided 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure:


At 2019 MST, I temporarily stopped imaging and removed the D7000 from the telescope. I continued some product tests that I had began on the previous session in the observatory. I completed testing at 2105 MST and viewed Jupiter, low in the east, 77X. The four Galilean Moons were nearly evenly spaced out in a horizontal line. I then viewed M74 (spiral galaxy).

At 2137 MST, slewed to Comet 168P/Hergenrother. It appeared small and very faint, and was best viewed at 77X using averted vision. It certainly was not as good a view as it was a few weeks ago. I then setup to redo the imaging of the comet. Did a focus test on Deneb, found a good guide star, and did a framing test exposure. I then did guided (on the star, not the comet) 2, 3, and 4 minute, ISO 6400, exposures. This is the 4 minute exposure, cropped slightly:


Photographically, the comet shows a nice tail.

I completed D7000 imaging at 2216 MST, removed the camera and re-attached the star diagonal with a 26mm (77X) eyepiece. At 2227 MST, viewed Jupiter, 77X, 206X, 364X, and 412X. The best view was at 412X, showing a lot of nice details. I then did some more product testing from 2250 MST to 2310 MST.

Once testing was done, I set up for iPhone 4 afocal recording of Jupiter, 444X + moon filter using the FiLMiC Pro app. As I mentioned on the previous session, FiLMiC Pro has an exposure lock and a focus lock capability, which helps when imaging planets. This image is from one frame of a video recording showing Jupiter and the moon Io:


This is a stack of 4346 frames (3 minute video recording) using Keith's Imager Stacker:


Completed imaging at 2328 MST and did some more Jupiter observing, 206X. The eastern sky was now brightening from the rising 3rd quarter moon. Using 77X, I then viewed M42 (Great Nebula in Orion) and M1 (Crab Nebula).

Closed the observatory at 2353 MST, 66°F.

Reminder: I will be attending the Arizona Science & Astronomy Expo, this weekend, 10-11 November 2012. When I'm not attending one of the scheduled events, I will likely be at one of these booths:

SkyShed POD
Lunt Solar Systems
Astronomy Technology Today

I'll probably be wearing a SkyShed POD cap and a Mighty ETX Site T-shirt.

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

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