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Kitt Peak Sun Glint, ISS, 3D Moon

Posted: 26 June 2013

During a sky check mid-afternoon on Tuesday, 25 June 2013, I noticed a bright sun glint from Kitt Peak (about 65 miles to the southwest from Cassiopeia Observatory). It was probably from the WIYN 3.5-meter observatory. Here's a couple of photos:



This photo, taken a few years ago from near my observatory using an ETX-125, shows the mountain in more detail:


Cassiopeia Observatory was opened at 1848 MST, 98°F. The sky was clear, with a slight breeze blowing. At 1855 MST, viewed Venus, then Mercury, 83X. Mercury showed a thin crescent. Switched to 364X; Mercury was faint and low contrast against the bright sky, about 40 minutes before sunset.

While observing Mercury, I updated the ISS TLE in the AutoStar for this night's good pass.

At 1911 MST, had to reduce the magnification to 206X to keep Mercury easily in view. 364X was just too much magnification for Mercury's faintness and low contrast. At 1931 MST, took my final look at Mercury, and then slewed to Saturn. At 83X, the view was very good. Switched to 206X; Cassini Division was easily seen around almost all of the visible Ring System.

Sunset occurred at 1939 MST. I set up the telescope for imaging the International Space Station (ISS). The D7000 DSLR was mounted at prime focus + 2X Barlow Lens. I put the telescope to sleep and temporarily left the observatory (to avoid Kissing Bugs). The observatory was closed at 1948 MST.

I returned at 2022 MST. At 2026 MST, did a focus test on the star Spica using the Bahtinov Mask:


Locked the telescope focus and checked the finderscope alignment. All was then ready for the ISS pass, which would start at 2041 MST.

About 30 seconds prior to the start of the ISS pass, the camera position shifted. The star diagonal must have been slightly loose and the weight of the camera and 2X Barlow Lens caused the rotation. I suspected that the focus changed but there wasn't time to refocus. As it turned out, the HD video, 1/1000sec, ISO 3200, was out-of-focus, which was unfortunate, as tracking was pretty good for much of the pass. This is the best frame (blurred though it is):


This was the second time I've had a shift of the camera when imaging an ISS pass. Lesson learned.

The observatory was closed at 2103 MST, 79°F.

On yesterday's report, I included an image of the waning gibbous moon taken with my 8" LX200-ACF and D7000 DSLR. Bill Dillon (Twitter @wdillon) in Texas tweeted a very similar image taken with his 12" telescope and iPhone. There were only about 4 hours and 930 miles difference in the images. Bill supplied his image and I created this 3D version:


Use the "fusion technique" (cross your eyes) to merge the two images into a single image, then let your eyes focus on the merged image. Click (or tap) the image to see a larger version.

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

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