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SkySafari Pro 4, Visual on Horsehead Nebula,
M46 and NGC2438

Posted: 30 December 2013

The sky was cloudy on Saturday, 28 December 2013, but cleared on Sunday.

Opened: Sunday, 29 December 2013, 2147 MST
Temperature: 45°F
Session: 635
Conditions: Clear, slight breeze

Viewed Jupiter, 2154 MST, using 83X and 222X. Four moons visible. Great Red Spot just rotating into view. I then did some tests using the new SkySafari Pro 4 on the iPhone 5s. Connected to the 8" LX200-ACF using the GC Wi-Fi Adapter. All worked great, as expected.


Last object selected on the iPhone was the Horsehead Nebula. Did a GOTO using SkySafari. I then disconnected SkySafari from the telescope and began searching for the Horsehead using 83X. At 2226 MST, after considerable difficulty, and with some assistance of a Hydrogen-Beta filter, finally detected the Horsehead Nebula, with and without the filter.

Next, switched to 222X and slewed to Rigel to check the separation of its binary companion star, which is similar to the current separation of Sirius A and Sirius B (the "Pup" Star). Then slewed to Sirius and began trying to see the Pup. No joy. Switched to 364X, repeated the check on Rigel, and tried again to see Sirius B. Again, no joy. I have seen Sirius B in the past with the 8" telescope so I know it is possible.

At 2244 MST, viewed Jupiter, 364X. The Great Red Spot was now clearly visible. Did some afocal slo-mo video recordings using the iPhone 5s, afocal 444X, with and without a moon filter, using my homemade iPhone afocal adapter. Seeing deteriorated while I was imaging Jupiter as the breezes got stronger. This is a stack of 1721 frames with the moon filter. Not a good image but the Great Red Spot is just barely visible.


Then slewed to M46 (open cluster) and NGC2438 (planetary nebula) and viewed them together in the same field-of-view using 83X. I had previously imaged them on 12 March 2012 using a 45 second, ISO 6400, exposure. This night I wanted to try multiple exposures for stacking. At 2310 MST, I began preparing for prime focus imaging using the D7000 DSLR. Due to the strong breezes that were blowing, I decided I would use short exposures (30 seconds), unguided, ISO 5000, for the imaging. After doing a focus test on Rigel using the Bahtinov Mask, I did 10 30-second exposures of M46 and NGC2438. I stacked the images in Lynkeos, with this result (effective exposure 5 minutes):


Completed imaging at 2326 MST. Then synced the observatory clock to radio station WWV. Due to the breezes, began closing up for the night.

Closed: Sunday, 29 December 2013, 2343 MST
Temperature: 44°F

Comments are welcome using Email. Thanks.

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