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Galaxies NGC3344 & NGC4244,
Quasar 3C273, Dwarf Planet Haumea

Posted: 11 April 2013

After my previous cloud hampered but still successful ISS imaging session on 6 April 2013, the observatory was not opened again until 10 April due to weather. I lost a good ISS pass on Sunday, 7 April 2013, due to clouds. And Monday, 8 April, started clear but with wind warnings in effect (gusts to 60 MPH forecast for southern Arizona). It was definitely windy at Cassiopeia Observatory:


Clouds and dusty skies arrived in the afternoon. I lost another good ISS imaging opportunity that evening. But we did get some much needed rain that night (0.3"). Cloudy skies and wind continued on Tuesday and I lost the last good ISS pass opportunity this week.

The observatory was finally opened again on Wednesday, 10 April, at 1813 MST, 75°F. The sky was partly cloudy but the forecast called for clearing skies. I powered on the 8" LX200-ACF at 1821 MST (about 30 minutes prior to sunset) to do some field-of-view (FOV) measurements of the Antares 7x50 finderscope. Clouds interferred at times but I was finally able to measure the FOV as 6° 44' 45".

At 1835 MST, viewed Jupiter, 77X. Only one Galilean Moon was visible. At 1845 MST, another moon became visible very near the planet's limb. I monitored it for a few minutes at 206X to determine whether a transit was upcoming. At 1850 MST, I determined that it was approaching the planet's disk and therefore a transit would occur. A 3rd moon appeared at this time. The transit began at 1856 MST (approximately, as clouds were hampering the view) and the 4th Galilean Moon became visible. The transiting moon was visible inside the planet's limb over the South Equatorial Belt. I lost sight of the transiting moon at 1905 MST. Clouds didn't help the viewing.

At 1905 MST, these Blackhawk helicopters flew by the observatory:


By 1915 MST, the sky was clearing nicely. Took a last look at Jupiter, 77X, at 1927 MST. Then slewed to NGC3344, galaxy, but the sky was not yet dark enough to see it at 77X. Slewed to M65 and began trying to observe the supernova SN 2013am. At 1940 MST, M65 was visible, but I never saw the supernova.

At 1945 MST, returned to NGC3344, which was now faintly visible. Set up for prime focus + off-axis guider imaging. Did a focus test on the star Denebola using the Bahtinov Mask. After locating a faint guide star and doing a framing test exposure, I captured this (full-frame) image of NGC3344, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, guided:


Several other smaller and fainter galaxies are visible in the image.

Then went to NGC4244, galaxy, and found a good guide star. This is a cropped, 5 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposure:


Next, I slewed to the Quasar 3C273, 2 Billion Lightyears away. After reading about the Quasar 3C273 jet in the March 2013 issue of Sky & Telescope, I decided to try to image it and view the quasar (about Mag +13) with the 8". I found a good guide star and did 5 and 10 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposures. This is the 10 minute exposure, cropped, with the inset showing a magnified view. I didn't capture the jet, but it was nice to image the quasar since it is so distant. (I did seem to capture some faint elongated object well away from the quasar. It appeared on both exposures.)


I finished imaging at 2118 MST. I removed the camera from the telescope and began trying to see Quasar 3C273 at 77X. I was able to identify surrounding stars using SkySafari Pro on the iPhone 4, but I never picked up the quasar.

I next prepared to try again to capture the Dwarf Planet Haumea (Mag +17.2, opposition 9 April 2013). On my 3 April 2013 report, I discussed trying to capture it. Since my limiting magnitude is +17.48 (on a good night), I believed I might be able to capture it. Images taken on two separate nights showing motion would be required to confirm I captured Haumea. Unfortunately, I was clouded out the next several nights, so I was unable to get a confirming image, nor was I able to identify Haumea in the single image from 2 April. I tried again this night, and did get a confirming image. I connected the iPhone to the telescope using the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and used SkySafari Pro to GOTO Haumea. This is a guided 10 minute, ISO 6400, image captured on 10 April 2013, cropped from the full-frame image:


This is an animated GIF showing images from 2 April 2013 and 10 April 2013, with Haumea arrowed:


The next dwarf planet I hope to image is Eris (Mag +18.7, opposition 15 October 2013), but it is likely too faint for my equipment, as my limiting photographic magnitude is +17.48.

I completed imaging at 2218 MST, and at 2226 MST, I took a quick look at Saturn, 77X.

The observatory was closed at 2235 MST, 49°F.

On my previous report I mentioned testing a Wi-Fi telescope adapter in the observatory. My review of the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and an AutoStar II App is now available. The Wi-Fi adapter currently works with Meade and Celestron telescopes, with support for more telescopes coming. If you are considering a Wi-Fi adapter for your GOTO telescope, I highly recommend this one. And if you have a LX200GPS/ACF, the AutoStar II app is a full replacement for the wired (or wireless) AutoStar II handcontroller.

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

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