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Jupiter, NGC4244 Galaxy

Posted: 1 March 2013

Clouds came in on Wednesday, 27 February 2013, preventing imaging an excellent ISS pass that night. The sky cleared again on Thursday, 28 February, and the observatory was opened at 1807 MST, 65°F. At 1814 MST, 6 minutes before sunset, I sighted Jupiter near the zenith without optical aid. At 1820 MST, I began a search for Mercury using the 8" LX200-ACF, 77X. Mercury at the time was a very thin crescent, very faint, and very low in the bright western sky. I continued searching, even as Mercury lowered into tree branches, until it was below the horizon (1850 MST). I never did see Mercury. Bye-bye Mercury.

I then slewed to Jupiter. Four moons were visible at 77X. I began preparations for imaging using the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender. I did a focus test with the Bahtinov Mask on the star Aldebaran. This is a composite of two images; 1 second, ISO 400, for the moons, and "Hat Trick", ISO 100, for the planet:


After the imaging was completed, I did some observing of Jupiter, 231X.

At 1929 MST, viewed M42, the Great Orion Nebula, 77X. I then noticed that the Zodiacal Light was easily seen. It almost reached the Winter Milky Way near the zenith.

At 1941 MST, I began some galaxy observing, 77X. Although low in the eastern sky, I observed M105, NGC3384, and NGC3389, all in the same field-of-view (FOV). Next was M65, M66, and NGC3628, also low in the east, all just barely in the same FOV. Last was NGC4244, low in the northeast.

Although NGC4244 was too low for good imaging (and the waning gibbous moon would be a factor once the galaxy was high enough), I decided to grab some quick images anyway. Did a focus test on Regulus at 2015 MST. Then back to NGC4244 for some framing tests. I then did 1 and 2 minute, ISO 6400, unguided exposures. Some trailing was evident in the 2 minute exposure, but the 1 minute exposures were OK. During post-processing, I used StarStaX to stack two images and used Neat Image to remove digital noise. This is the result:


I plan to acquire longer exposures on a future session. Finished imaging at 2037 MST and took a final look at Jupiter, 77X.

Closed the observatory at 2053 MST, 46°F.

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

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