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Mercury, Venus, Saturn, ISS, Perigee Full Moon

Posted: 23 June 2013

Clouds arrived on Friday, 21 June 2013. The observatory was not opened. During the morning of Saturday, 22 June 2013, we removed two more pack rat nests from near the observatory. The clouds departed during the afternoon and the observatory was opened at 1833 MST, 102°F. Viewed Venus at 1843 MST using 83X on the 8" LX200-ACF, then Mercury. This was about an hour before sunset; Mercury's crescent phase was visible. Switched to 364X. At 1846 MST, Mercury was low contrast against the bright sky but the crescent was still visible.

I decided to try a test and do a handheld iPhone 4 video recording afocally with the 5.5mm eyepiece (364X) and see if any good frames were captured. This is the best frame, 1853 MST, clearly showing Mercury's crescent phase:


I then updated the TLE for the night's ISS pass.

At 1937 MST, I took my last look at Mercury, which was now too low for good viewing. Sunset occurred at 1938 MST. Slewed to Venus and viewed it at 364X. Bright and nearly full phase. For size (and brightness) comparison to the image of Mercury above, here is Venus, iPhone 4, handheld afocal 364X, frame from a video:


At 1944 MST, went to Saturn and viewed it at 364X. I did the same iPhone video test, 364X, and this is a single frame from the video for size comparison to Mercury and Venus:


While not a great image of Saturn, Cassini Division is easily seen.

I began setting up for imaging of the International Space Station (ISS) through the 8" telescope using the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 2X Barlow Lens. I then put the telescope to sleep and temporarily left the observatory at 1958 MST to avoid Kissing Bugs. I returned at 2102 MST and made final preparations for imaging the ISS. I did a focus test on the star Spica using the Bahtinov Mask, then locked the focus and tweaked the finderscope alignment. I also synced the observatory clock to WWV. All was now ready for the ISS pass. The pass was a fairly good one, although it was short as the ISS faded out as it neared the zenith. Tracking was moderately good but continual manual corrections were required. This image shows the ISS at four points in the pass, captured from the HD video recording, 1/1250sec, ISO 3200:


I switched to eyepiece projection imaging using a 9mm eyepiece (222X), did a focus test with the Mask on Spica, and then did two minute HD video recordings with the D7000 DSLR, 1/30sec, at various ISO values. This is a stack of 2674 frames from the ISO 6400 video using Keith's Image Stacker:


At 2205 MST, did some Saturn observing, 364X. Slewed to nearly Full Moon at 2210 MST; a very slight terminator was visible about 6.5 hours prior to precisely Full Moon. I then viewed the very bright moon at 83X. I set up for prime focus imaging. Needed to add the focal reducer in order to capture the entire disk of the moon. I did some moon imaging in case I was clouded out of the so-called "Supermoon" perigee Full Moon which would occur at 0432 MST.

The telescope was parked at 2237 MST and the observatory was closed at 2254 MST, 77°F. No Kissing Bugs were seen during the session.

After I stepped out of the observatory, I took this photograph of the moon with the D7000 DSLR, f/11, 1/320sec, ISO 100, 300mm lens:


I returned to the observatory at 0334 MST and took this photograph of the POD and Full Moon, f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 100, 25mm:


The observatory was opened at 0335 MST, 72°F. At 0346 MST, viewed the Full Moon, 83X. An extremely narrow terminator was visible, especially near the lunar south pole. It was less than one hour prior to being a precisely Full Moon. At 0356 MST, I was ready for prime focus + focal reducer imaging of the Perigee Full Moon. The eastern sky was beginning to brighten at 0404 MST from the soon to rise sun. As the Full Moon got lower in the sky I monitored its position near some tree limbs. I had to image it a few minutes prior to Full Moon (0432 MST). This image was acquired at 0423 MST:


Click (or tap) the image to see a larger version.

At 0432 MST, the moon was partially covered by a tree limb and so I ended imaging.

The observatory was closed at 0447 MST, 69°F.

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

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