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Asteroid 2012 DA14 & CTV Discovery Channel,
Mercury, Moon, Earthshine

Posted: 20 February 2013

On Friday, 15 February 2013, I was notified by SkyShed POD in Canada that a producer at the Canadian TV Discovery Channel wanted to interview me for that night's broadcast special on Asteroid 2012 DA14. They were interested in what an amateur could photograph using a backyard observatory. I contacted the producer and said I would provide a link to my report if I was successful at imaging the asteroid. I did capture the asteroid Friday night, as seen in my asteroid report, and sent the information to Discovery Channel. I heard back from the Canadian TV Discovery Channel on Monday, 18 February. My segment (which was to be credited photos of what I did from my observatory and a URL to my web site) didn't make the edits for their hour long broadcast on Friday's Russian Meteor and Asteroid 2012 DA14. I guess they had so much material on the Russia meteor that they wanted to include! Maybe I'll get on CTV sometime in the future. But thanks to Wayne at SkyShed POD and Laura at CTV for considering me for this special show.

You can watch the (otherwise) excellent hour long show, "Daily Planet : Fire In The Sky Special : Fire In The Sky", online using these URLs: (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6) (web special video)

Also at the CTV Discovery Channel online is this nice interview with Wayne Parker, the creator of the SkyShed POD:

Clouds from an approaching winter storm arrived on Monday, 18 February 2013. Then Tuesday, 19 February, the sky cleared but a strong wind was blowing. I decided to open the observatory to do some imaging of Mercury and the moon (if the wind allowed). The observatory was opened at 1805 MST, 63°F. There were some clouds low in the western sky. At 1810 MST, viewed Mercury, 77X. Less than half-phase was clearly visible. I set up for eyepiece projection, 222X, imaging with the D7000 DSLR and 8" LX200-ACF. Unfortuately, I had a lot of difficulty getting Mercury in the narrow field-of-view in the camera and achieving a focus. I finally decided to focus on the moon to eliminate that variable. By the time I got Mercury in the camera, it was too low for good imaging. I did an HD video recording anyway, 1/200sec, ISO 6400, 30 seconds. This is the best image of Mercury from one frame of the video:


I removed the camera and viewed the moon at 1839 MST, 77X. Earthshine was barely visible. Switched to the visual back. At 1842 MST, captured this image of the moon at prime focus, 1/400sec, ISO 400:


I then began waiting for the sky to get a little darker before trying to image the Earthshine. At 1856 MST, I managed to get this image (slightly cropped from the full-frame image), "Hat Trick", ISO 400:


A star is faintly visible in the upper left corner, and a brighter star near the moon's limb in the lower right corner. Earthshine and some lunar surface features are visible.

At this point, clouds that had been low in the western sky were now approaching the moon near the zenith. The wind was still blowing. I did some brief lunar touring at 206X. There were some nice sights visible on the moon.

With clouds now in half of the sky and increasing, I started closing up for the night.

The observatory was closed at 1912 MST, 52°F. The winter storm is due to arrive on Wednesday, 20 February, with snow likely.

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

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