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ETX Visitor; Owl; D7000 DSLR: Supernova 2013df;
iPhone: M22 Globular Cluster

Posted: 14 June 2013

The observatory was opened Thursday, 13 June 2013, at 1810 MST, 109°F. The sky was mostly clear, with a slight breeze blowing. I expected to have a visitor arrive for help troubleshooting his ETX-125AT. At 1818 MST, I viewed the moon with the 8" LX200-ACF, 83X. At 1820 MST, viewed Venus, 83X. Venus was also easily seen in the 7x50 finderscope over one hour before sunset. At 1822 MST, viewed Mercury, 83X. It was not visible in the finderscope. Switched to the 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece (222X) and viewed Mercury. The less than half-phase disk was easily seen.

Dick Buchroeder arrived at 1832 MST. At 1840 MST, he viewed Mercury, then Venus, at 222X through the 8" telescope. We then began working with his ETX-125AT. During the initial AutoStar #497 alignment steps, the alignment stars would not be close to their actual positions and the telescope would slew until it reached a hard stop when slewing to the second star. He took some photos of me at the ETX-125AT:



I did all the usual ETX AutoStar troubleshooting that I typically recommend on my ETX Site, but nothing cured the problem. I noted that the AutoStar was running an old version of the software (4.3Ea), so I suggested updating to the last, best version for the AutoStar #497 (4.3Eg). He would need to get the proper cable, adapter, and updating software to do that. I hope it resolves the problem. We ended troubleshooting at 1930 MST, shortly before sunset.

We returned to the observatory and Dick took a couple more photos:



At 1948 MST, he viewed the crescent moon, 83X, 222X, and 364X. At 2000 MST, viewed Saturn, 364X and 222X. About 2010 MST, I saw an owl land in the tree just to the southeast of the observatory and managed to get a photo:


Dick left at 2025 MST. I briefly observed Saturn, 222X. Four moons were visible. I then put the telescope to sleep and at 2037 MST, I temporarily left the observatory to avoid the prime time for Kissing Bugs. I returned to the observatory at 2154 MST.

I slewed to NGC4414 (small, faint galaxy) to try to observe the recently discovered supernova SN2013df using 83X. The supernova was easily seen, even with the moon still in the sky. I decided to image it once the moon was no longer a factor. I began preparing the D7000 DSLR for prime focus imaging. At 2232 MST, slewed to the star Denebola, which would be the focus test star and mounted the D7000 DSLR on the 8" LX200-ACF using the off-axis guider. Did the focus test using the Bahtinov Mask. I then SYNCed on Denebola with it centered in the camera viewfinder. Slewed back to NGC4414 and did a framing test exposure. Framing was good. The moon set at 2252 MST. I searched for a suitable guidestar but could only locate a very faint one. I did 2 and 5 minute, ISO 6400, guided exposures, but guiding was not good using the faint guidestar. I decided to do five 1 minute, ISO 6400, unguided exposures and then stack them using Lynkeos, for an effective exposure of 5 minutes. This is the result, with supernova SN2013df marked:


I ended imaging at 2313 MST and did some more supernova observing, 83X. I then observed M17 (Swan Nebula). I decided to try imaging M17 with the iPhone 4, afocal 77X, MX-1 afocal adapter, using True Nightvision. Unfortunately, M17 was just too faint. However, M22 (globular cluster), was visible on the iPhone screen using the NORM mode with full-scale Enhance. Only the brighter stars of the globular cluster were captured:


But still, not bad for a smartphone camera.

At 0017 MST, I resumed DSO observing, 83X. Viewed M16 (Eagle Nebula), M15 (globular cluster), and NGC7331 (spiral galaxy). I then spent some time just enjoying the night sky with my naked eyes. The Milky Way was high in the sky now. The Great Square of Pegasus was rising in the east.

I resumed DSO observing, 83X. Although low in the northeast, viewed some DSOs in Cassiopeia: NGC129 (open cluster), NGC147 (elliptical galaxy), NGC185 (elliptical galaxy), NGC225 (open cluster), NGC457 (open cluster), NGC559 (open cluster), M103 (open cluster), NGC654 (open cluster), NGC659 (open cluster), NGC663 (open cluster), NGC7635 (Bubble Nebula), M52 (open cluster), and NGC7789 (open cluster).

At 0100 MST, M31, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, was visible to the naked eye low in the northeastern sky. I viewed it at 83X. The UWA eyepiece easily showed M31 and its companion galaxy M32 in the same field-of-view (FOV). M31 and another companion galaxy, M110, were also in the same FOV. However, all three galaxies were not visible in the same FOV at the same time.

At 0117 MST, viewed M30 (globular cluster), 83X, low in the southeast.

The observatory was closed at 0138 MST, 73°F.

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