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Venus, Mercury, NGC6751 & NGC6905 Planetaries,
Virgo Galaxy Cluster, Other DSOs

Posted: 9 June 2013

During the day on Saturday, 8 June 2013, we removed another pack rat nest from near the observatory. On my way to the observatory in the evening, I took this photograph of our baby birds (second batch of the season):


Cassiopeia Observatory was opened at 1850 MST, 102°F. The sky was clear, with a slight breeze blowing. At 1900 MST, viewed Mercury, 83X. Switched to the 1.25" 26mm eyepiece (77X) and then the 1.25" 5.5mm eyepiece (364X). Surface detail was visible again this evening at 364X. I began setting up for eyepiece projection imaging with the D7000 DSLR and a 9mm eyepiece (222X) on the 8" LX200-ACF. When I mounted the camera on the telescope, I lost sight of Mercury in the viewfinder (due to its low contrast and the high magnification being used). Rather than unmount the camera, I decided to wait until Mercury became visible in the 7x50 finderscope. While waiting, I did a HD video recording of Venus, eyepiece projection, 222X, 1/60sec, ISO 400. This is a stack of 476 frames using Lynkeos:


I finally located Mercury in the finderscope at 1927 MST and began imaging it. This is a Lynkeos stack of 356 frames from a HD video, 1/30sec, ISO 1600:


The surface detail that was visible to the eye was not captured. I ended imaging just prior to sunset, which occurred at 1933 MST. I viewed Mercury again at 364X; the surface detail was still visible even though Mercury was getting low in the sky. At 1942 MST, I ended Mercury observing as it was now too low for good viewing.

Slewed to Saturn at 1944 MST and viewed it at 364X. The view of the planet and ring system was good.

As I did two nights previously, I did another "Kissing Bug experiment". Since Kissing Bugs have been most numerous between the hours of 2000 MST and 2200 MST, I temporarily left the observing at 1950 MST after putting the telescope to sleep. I returned to the observatory at 2134 MST and resumed observing.

First, I viewed Saturn again, 364X. Then I switched to the 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece (222X) and viewed Saturn. Four moons were visible.

I then began observing deep sky objects (DSOs) using the 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece (83X). First was the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. The UWA eyepiece provided some great views of the various galaxies, with many in the same field-of-view (FOV). Next, viewed M4 (globular cluster), 222X and 83X. The view was nice at 222X, with many stars visible. At 2210 MST, I returned to Virgo for a tour of DSOs using the 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece (83X). Viewed these galaxies: NGC4261, M61, M84, M86, M49, M87, M89, M90, M58, M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M59, M60, and NGC4697. I also viewed the quasar 3C273. The tour of Virgo was great.

By 2230 MST, no Kissing Bugs had been seen.

I next viewed M57 (Ring Nebula); always a nice view. I then did a tour of DSOs in Vulpecula and viewed the open clusters NGC6830, NGC6885, NGC6940, and NGC6823. Also viewed M27 (Dumbbell Nebula).

I then viewed several small, faint, planetary nebulae. NGC6905 was a nice one; it would be imaged later. NGC6891 was almost star-like, as were NGC6803, NGC6790, and NGC6741. NGC6751 was a good one, albeit, small and faint. It would also be imaged later.

Beginning at 2325 MST, began observing some DSOs in Sagittarius, 83X: M7 (open cluster), M8 (Lagoon Nebula), M23 (open cluster), M25 (open cluster), M17 (Swan Nebula), M16 (Eagle Nebula), and M11 (Wild Duck Cluster). At 2340 MST, breezes resumed; they had been calm earlier.

At 2345 MST, slewed to NGC6905 and then NGC6751 to get ready to image these planetary nebulae. Used the star Altair for a focus test image with the Bahtinov Mask. I then did several unguided exposures of NGC6751 at 30, 60, and 120 seconds, ISO 6400. I also did twelve 15 second exposures for stacking. This is NGC6751, stacked for an effective exposure of 3 minutes using Lynkeos:


I repeated the same exposures for NGC6905. This is a stack of twelve 15 second, ISO 6400, exposures using Lynkeos:


Imaging was ended at 0028 MST. I took a final look at two objects: M16 (Eagle Nebula) and M20 (Trifid Nebula), 83X, both now high in the southern sky.

The observatory was closed at 0056 MST, 75°F. No Kissing Bugs were seen this night. My experiment was a success. I will probably continue this practice for the remaining of the Kissing Bug season (through about the end of June).

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

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