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Nova Delphini 2013 (finally)

Posted: 28 August 2013

Monsoon season cloudy skies continued here. I received a prediction from for a Hubble Space Telescope moon transit on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, at 210641 MST. The moon would be full at 1842 MST. Unfortunately, the moon was not even visible through thick clouds. And according to reports, Nova Delphini 2013 is definitely decreasing in brightness. So I missed the prime viewing opportunities due to cloudy weather. Also missed some good ISS passes due to cloudy nights. Friday evening, 23 August 2013, a strong monsoon thunderstorm hit with wind gusts over 30 MPH, frequent nearby cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning, almost continuous thunder, and 0.97" of rain in a little over one hour. Total rain from this storm was 1.02". After the storm ended, I checked the observatory and as expected, all was well inside. But it got a good washing outside! Plus, a little more rain over the weekend.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013, dawned clear as a small dry air mass moved in, but clouds returned mid-morning. After sunset, the sky was partly cloudy, so I decided to take advantage of the somewhat clear skies and try to view Nova Delphini 2013. I headed out to the observatory. On the way, I took this photo of the western sky, showing some monsoon storms and Venus (near top, left of middle):


The observatory was opened at 1921 MST, 89°F. At 1928 MST, viewed Venus, 83X. Its gibbous phase was visible, although seeing was not very good. I then synced the observatory clock to WWV.

Next, I did some more testing of a product I'm trying out. Will post a review once it is released.

Viewed Saturn, 83X. Seeing was not very good.

At 1945 MST, I slewed the 8" LX200-ACF to the constellation of Delphinus. At 1959 MST, I began looking for the now much fainter nova using 7x50 binoculars. Using various charts showing the nova's position, I finally managed to identify it at 2006 MST. It was definitely not a bright star now. Too bad I missed it when it was at its brightest due to the continuous cloudy nights here. At 2010 MST, I began setting up for photography of the sky. I mounted the D7000 DSLR piggyback on the telescope.

At 2022 MST, I took this photograph, f/4.8, 2 minutes, 42mm focal length, ISO 1600:


Mouseover (or tap) to see labels. The red at the upper right is the edge of the observatory dome.

At 2040 MST, I viewed the nova through the telescope, 83X.

Even though the sky was mostly clear, I began closing up for the night. I was fighting off a cold and had errands to run the next day.

The observatory was closed at 2050 MST, 81°F. The forecasts for the next several nights is a continuation of monsoon season clouds, so I'm glad I was able to do this night's session.

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

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