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D7000 DSLR: Venus, Mercury

Posted: 8 June 2013

Another pack rat from near the observatory was captured and released on Friday, 7 June 2013. Count is now 22 live pack rats and 2 dead ones. The last one was captured 6 days ago, so apparently we are making progress against them, even if the Kissing Bug problem remains.

The observatory was opened Friday, 7 June 2013, at 1836 MST, 107°F. The sky was clear but there was some slight haze. This would be a short session in the observatory.

I first viewed Mercury, 83X. Then Venus, 77X. Returned to Mercury and using 364X, the surface detail was again visible this evening. I decided I would try imaging it with the D7000 DSLR at prime focus of the 8" LX200-ACF using a 2X Barlow Lens. However, focusing would be a challenge due to the planet's low elevation (atmospheric distortion) and the planet's low contrast with the bright sky before sunset. I needed to do the imaging before sunset while Mercury was high enough in the sky to image from the observatory. I returned to Venus and used it to focus with the camera mounted at prime focus (no Barlow Lens). I then did a HD video recording, 1/400sec, ISO 400. This is one frame from the video, cropped from the original full-frame video:


I then slewed to Mercury and did some prime focus HD videos. The scale of Mercury was too small to be usable. I added the 2X Barlow Lens. Seeing was not very good, which made focusing even more difficult while using "Live View" on the camera. I even tried using a "viewfinder magnifier" to assist with focusing. This frame from a HD video recording, 1/30sec, ISO 500, shows the phase of Mercury:


I did extensive editing of the image to see if the surface detail was captured but the image quality was not high enough to make that possible.

I ended imaging at 1926 MST. Sunset was at 1932 MST.

Briefly viewed Saturn, 83X, at 1935 MST, and then began closing the observatory.

The observatory was closed at 1945 MST, 88°F.

I have been commenting about how nice it has been recently to have the private streetlight on top of the hill to the east turned off at night. The night sky looks much better without the bright light glaring. The surrounding landscape also looks better without the orange cast applied. I have now been told that the property has been sold. I hope the new owner is more light conscientious and takes appropriate steps to avoid being a source of unwanted light trespass, light nuisance, and light pollution.

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

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