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Moon-Saturn-Venus, NGC6818 Planetary Nebula,
Asteroid 324 Bamberga

Posted: 11 September 2013

Clouds returned on Thursday, 5 September 2013, with some rain each day Friday through Monday. No observing. The sky cleared somewhat on Tuesday, 10 September 2013, and the observatory was opened at 1835 MST, 82°F, to partly cloudy skies. At 1842 MST, viewed Venus, 83X and 222X. Then viewed Saturn, 222X. That was followed by the moon at 222X; nice views along the terminator and northern limb.

I took this handheld photo of the sky at 1908 MST showing the moon, Saturn, and Venus, f/4, 1 second, 28mm, ISO 400:

(Mouseover or tap to see labels.)

At 1916 MST, I took a last look at the moon, 83X.

I then slewed the 8" LX200-ACF to NGC6818 (planetary nebula). At 1918 MST, it was just barely visible at 83X; twilight had not yet ended and there were some clouds nearby. At 1920 MST, while observing NGC6818, a polar orbiting satellite went through the eyepiece field-of-view (FOV). I then enabled "High Precision" on the AutoStar. I have never used High Precision on the 8" LX200-ACF, but wanted to give it a try, especially for a faint galaxy that I hoped to image later this night, clouds permitting. I then did another GOTO NGC6818; the telescope slewed first to a bright star, which I was prompted to center. It then slewed to NGC6818, putting it nearly in the center of the eyepiece FOV (which it had also done without High Precision enabled). I will continue to use High Precision for a few sessions to see how I like it.

At 1935 MST, I began preparing the D7000 DSLR for imaging. At 1950 MST, I mounted the camera at prime focus + star diagonal. I then did a High Precision GOTO NGC6818 and used the centering star for the focus test (with Bahtinov Mask). I began imaging NGC6818 at 1956 MST using 15, 30, 45, and 60 second exposures, ISO 6400. This is a cropped 15 second exposure of NGC6818 (planetary nebula):


I completed imaging at 2001 MST and removed the camera from the telescope. The sky was mostly clear now. However, by 2030 MST, some clouds were appearing in the eastern and western sky. I decided to start imaging Asteroid 324 (Bamberga), which would be at opposition on 13 September 2013, but by then the moon would be brighter and nearer the asteroid's position. I did a focus test with the Bahtinov Mask on Alpha Andromeda. Next, I turned on the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and used SkySafari Pro on the iPhone 4 to GOTO Asteroid 324. I did unguided 30 second, ISO 6400, exposures at 2047 MST, 2117 MST, and 2147 MST. This is the first image, slightly cropped:


This next image is an animated GIF showing the asteroid's motion in one hour:


During the one hour, clouds were near the asteroid's position and the humidity increased to 52%. After I completed imaging of the asteroid, I removed the camera and did a High Precision GOTO NGC7252 (Atoms for Peace galaxy). At 83X, it was just visible. There were thin clouds over much of the sky now, including near the galaxy. I had planned to image the galaxy but decided to defer it to a later session, hopefully before the moon interfers too much.

The observatory was closed at 2207 MST, 67°F, humidity 58%.

The "Pacific Astronomy & Telescope Show" (PATS) for 2013 has been cancelled. I had always hoped to attend one but never made it there. While there are likely many factors that resulted in PATS coming to an end, the highly successful First Annual "Arizona Science & Astronomy Expo" (ASAE) held in November 2012 probably had a lot to do with the cancellation. The Second Annual ASAE will be held in November 2013. I plan to be there.

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

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