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Critters; Crescent Moon, Venus, and Mercury;
Barnard's Star?; DSO Observing

Posted: 11 June 2013

The sky was clear Sunday, 9 June 2013, but due to an early morning appointment on Monday, I didn't open the observatory. Monday was also clear and as I went to the observatory, took this photo of the baby birds:


The observatory was opened at 1846 MST, 105°F. There was a slight breeze blowing. First, I replaced the rubber leg tips on my Starbound Observing Chair, as all four tips were cracked from lots of use and probably from the Arizona heat and low humidity after several years in the observatory.

At 1901 MST, viewed the thin crescent moon, 83X. At 1905 MST, the moon was just visible in the bright western sky and I took this photo (full-frame) with the D7000 DSLR, f/8, 1/1000sec, 300mm, ISO 400:


Sunset occurred at 1934 MST. At 1938 MST, I took this photo (slightly cropped) of the moon with the iPhone 4, afocal 77X, MX-1 afocal adapter:


I then did some observing of the moon and Venus using 7x50 binoculars. They were not quite in the same FOV. Mercury became naked eye visible at 1946 MST and was in the same binoculars FOV as Venus but not with the moon. At 1955 MST, I resumed lunar observing, 83X. At 1958 MST, took this photo (full-frame), f/11, 1/25sec, 125mm, ISO 500:


Mouseover (or tap) the image to see labels.

Ended lunar observing at 2003 MST and slewed to Saturn. At 83X, four moons were visible. I began closing down for a short period of time to avoid the peak of the Kissing Bug times. Slept the telescope and left the observatory at 2008 MST.

I returned to the observatory at 2137 MST. I took a quick look at Saturn, 83X. I then began preparing for the night's imaging attempt of Barnard's Star. My previous image was taken on 3 June 2013 (click for image). I thought I had identified it in that image, but based on this night's image, I was wrong. I powered on the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and connected SkySafari Pro to the 8" LX200-ACF. Barnard's Star was not quite high enough in the sky for good imaging. I mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer + visual back (same as used on the imaging attempt on 3 June). By accident, I discovered that the Meade 2" visual back actually separates into two pieces. I will have to test using the shorter section at some point. At 2201 MST, slewed to Antares, which would be the focus star. Did the focus test using the Bahtinov Mask at 2216 MST and at 2218 MST, took this photo of the sky where Barnard's Star should be:


I did a "blink comparison" with the 3 June image but no star motion was detected over the one week period. I will try another image in another week. The star's large proper motion should show up after 2 weeks, so I will compare that image to the 3 June image.

I then did some DSO observing using the 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece (83X) and 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece (222X). First was M27 (Dumbbell Nebula); great views with both eyepieces with lots of structure visible, especially using averted vision. I then did lots of DSO observing with the focal reducer + 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece. First was M27; lovely view. M57 (Ring Nebula) was small but bright. Next were some DSOs in Cygnus: NGC6888 (Crescent Nebula) was faint but visible. NGC6960 (Veil Nebula) was also faint but visible. IC5067 (Pelican Nebula) was faint but visible. NGC6992 (diffuse nebula) was very nice with a distinct shape visible. NGC7000 (North America Nebula) was partially visible, with lots of stars in the FOV. IC5146 (diffuse nebula) was faintly visible. I then slewed to Sagittarius and viewed M20 (Trifid Nebula) and M17 (Swan Nebula); both were nice views with lots of structure visible using the focal reducer and wide field eyepiece. Next was M22 (globular cluster) and M16 (Eagle Nebula); both great views.

At 2314 MST, I noted that the temperature was still 78°F. Viewed M4 (globular cluster), then M71 (globular cluster); nice views. Slewed to Aquila and viewed NGC6709 (open cluster) and NGC6755 (open cluster).

I then viewed some galaxies in the northern sky, focal reducer + 24mm UWA eyepiece: M81 and M82 (nicely in the same FOV), M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), M101, M108, and M109. All were super views. Also viewed M97 (Owl Nebula).

My last object for the night was the double star Mizar at 83X and 222X. Then began closing up.

The observatory was closed at 0014 MST, 76°F. Once again, no Kissing Bugs seen. My practice of temporarily leaving the observatory seems to be working. And once again, the light on the hill to the east remained off this night. No light really does make a difference in the sky quality. Thanks neighbor!

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

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