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StarGPS-NX02 Tests, M65 SN 2013am, NGC4244 Galaxy

Posted: 3 April 2013

On my last report, I discussed doing some repairs on the outdoor carpet at the observatory. 24 hours and 48 hours after the repairs were completed, I checked the carpet. The repairs seem to have worked.

Cloudy skies continued. This was unfortunate as on Tuesday, 26 March 2013, I received notification from of a transit of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) across the waning gibbous moon north polar region to occur Friday night, 29 March:


I had previously tried, but failed, to image the HST while transiting the sun. The HST-Moon transit would occur with the moon low in the southeast and probably in a tree, but I wanted to make preparations for it anyway. Since the predicted path across the moon for my location was so short, I decided I would image the moon using more magnification than just at prime focus. During the nights leading up to the transit I had planned to do some test HD video recordings using various shutter speeds and ISO values at prime focus + 2X Barlow Lens, prime focus + 3X TeleXtender, and eyepiece projection at 222X. Cloudy nights prevented that. Friday, 29 March, dawned mostly clear, so I had hopes for the night even with forecasts of cloudy skies. However, clouds began increasing mid-day and by night, there was no opportunity for the HST-Moon transit.

During the daytime on Saturday, 30 March 2013, I installed a newly received PixSoft StarGPS-NX02 GPS add-on for GOTO telescopes on my 8" LX200-ACF telescope. I will post a review once I have a chance to use the GPS unit during actual nighttime operations.

The sky cleared on Easter Sunday, 31 March 2013, and the forecasts for that night were good. However, clouds moved in mid-afternoon, wiping out that night's observing. Tuesday, 2 April, dawned with clear skies. The sky stayed mostly clear during the day and I opened the observatory at 1813 MST, 80°F. I set up my ETX-105PE for some tests with the StarGPS-NX02:


At 1859 MST, I powered on the 8" LX200-ACF for some StarGPS-NX02 tests. Once I completed the tests on the 8" LX200-ACF, including a One Star alignment, I viewed Jupiter, 77X. Four moons were visible. While waiting for twilight to end, I went to the ETX-105PE and did some work with it (without the StarGPS connected). At 1935 MST, viewed Jupiter with the ETX-105PE, 56X. Four moons were visible, although one moon was about to go behind the planet. At 1938 MST, I powered off the ETX and returned to the 8" and viewed Jupiter, 77X. I watched the moon disappear (at 1940 MST).

I then slewed to the star Capella, mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + off-axis guider (OAG), and did a focus test with the Bahtinov Mask. Next, I connected the iPhone 4 to the 8" using the SkyWire cable and slewed to Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) using SkySafari Pro to control the telescope. I searched for a suitable guide star and did two 10 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposures 30 minutes apart to try to capture the comet (still faint; about Magnitude +16). During post-processing, a "blink comparison" of the two images did not reveal any motion, and so no comet was captured. I will try again on the next session. Since I have previously imaged the comet, I must have slewed it out of the field-of-view while searching for a guide star.

My next target was the faint galaxy NGC2684. I found a very faint guide star and did a framing test exposure. Unfortunately, the galaxy was too faint to be seen in the 1 minute exposure. I did a 5 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposure. Unfortunately, I kept losing sight of the faint guide star and image trailing was very bad. I will try again on the next session.

I then slewed to the galaxy M65 to image the supernova SN 2013am. My first selected guide star was too faint and I kept losing it. My second selected guide star was much better and I captured this (cropped) 5 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposure of M65 showing the supernova (arrowed):


My last DSO target for the night was the galaxy NGC4244. Once again, my selected guide (very faint) kept disappearing during the guided 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure. But this time, trailing was not too bad, as seen in this slightly cropped image:


I completed imaging at 2147 MST. I took a quick look at NGC4244, 77X, and then powered off the LX200-ACF. I removed the StarGPS-NX02 from it and restored built-in GPS operations. I did a new One Star alignment. I then connected the StarGPS-NX02 to the ETX-105PE and did some tests. While at the ETX, I viewed Saturn, M13, and M51, 56X. I completed the ETX tests and observing at 2246 MST and returned to the 8" telescope.

I did a quick look at Saturn, 77X, then connected the iPhone to the telescope. On 13 and 14 March 2013, I imaged the dwarf planet Makemake (Magnitude +16.9) as it neared opposition (19 March 2013). This night I would try for dwarf planet Haumea (Mag +17.2, opposition 9 April 2013). Since my limiting magnitude is +17.48 (on a good night), I might be able to capture it. As before, images on two separate nights showing motion would be required to confirm I captured Haumea. This is the guided 10 minute, ISO 6400, image captured on 2 April 2013:


I compared the star field in the image to that shown by SkySafari for Mac OS X but could not locate Haumea. Hopefully, the image to be taken on the next session will allow me to find this faint dwarf planet.

I completed imaging at 2315 MST. I viewed Saturn again, 77X and 364X. Seeing was not ideal but the Ring System looked lovely and nicely wide-open.

The observatory was closed at 2344 MST, 55°F.

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