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Moon, M65 Galaxy Supernova SN 2013am

Posted: 24 March 2013

After a windy and hazy day, the observatory was opened Saturday, 23 March 2013, at 1830 MST, 72°F. There were still breezes blowing at times. At 1838 MST, viewed the waxing gibbous moon, 77X. I locked the telescope focus, connected the iPhone 4 to the 8" LX200-ACF using a SkyWire cable, and used SkySafari Pro on the iPhone to GOTO Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS).

At 1842 MST, the comet was not yet visible at 77X. But at 1909 MST, the comet head became faintly visible against the bright twilight sky. At 1923 MST, the comet tail became visible, but viewing was impaired by a tree limb. However, at 1928 MST, the tail was easier to see. At 1931 MST, Comet PanSTARRS was visible in the Antares 7x50 finderscope. At 1945 MST, the comet was well into tree limbs and I ended comet viewing. This was probably my last attempt at viewing Comet PanSTARRS.

Viewed Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons, 77X, at 1949 MST. Then slewed to the moon. Seeing was not very good, but the crater Babbage complex at the terminator looked interesting. I set up the D7000 DSLR for prime focus imaging. Had to add a focal reducer to capture the entire lunar disk, as seen in this 1/400sec, ISO 100, exposure:


Removed the focal reducer and added a 3X TeleXtender for this (cropped), "Hat Trick", ISO 100, image of Babbage:


Removed the camera and switched back to the star diagonal, 77X. At 2022 MST, viewed the M65 galaxy in Leo. The galaxy was barely visible due to the bright moonlit sky from the nearby gibbous moon (which was also in the constellation of Leo). The newly discovered supernova SN 2013am was not visible. I decided I would try anyway to image the supernova. Mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus using the off-axis guider. Did a focus test on the star Denebola using the Bahtinov Mask and locked the telescope focus. Slewed to M65, began a search for a suitable guide star, which was hampered by the bright moonlit sky, and did some framing test exposures. I finally located a star and began imaging. Unfortunately, the sky was overexposed at even 1 minute, ISO 6400, although I did do 2 minute and 3 minute exposures as well. Fortunately, the supernova was bright enough to be captured in the exposures, and with some editing, I was able to show the supernova.

I took this image of M65 on 14 March 2013; no supernova is visible:


This image captured on 23 March 2013, 2 minutes, ISO 6400, shows supernova SN 2013am:


Since the moon is currently waxing, I will wait until it is no longer a factor before imaging the M65 galaxy again. Hopefully, the supernova won't fade too fast.

Closed the observatory at 2117 MST, 51°F.

On the previous report I mentioned adding a new Open/Closed status to the web site. On Saturday, I added some code to post an automated tweet on Twitter when the observatory is opened and closed:



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

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