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Mercury, Clouds at Sunset, Supernova SN2014j Observation

Posted: 27 January 2014

After viewing/imaging the new supernova SN2014j in the M82 galaxy the night after first discovery, the sky became cloudy and stayed that way for several nights. On Friday, 24 January 2013, I received some new accessories which I will be testing. I will post a review sometime in February.

Opened: Sunday, 26 January 2014, 1740 MST
Temperature: 70°F
Session: 650
Conditions: Mostly clear, clouds low SW-W-NW

1748 MST: viewed Mercury, low in the western sky, 83X and 222X. Its phase was not clearly visible at 83X, but its slightly gibbous phase was visible using 222X. Sunset occurred at 1750 MST. Added the 2X PowerMate to the 9mm eyepiece (444X); provided a fairly good view of Mercury. I then did a handheld afocal 444X slo-mo video of Mercury using the iPhone 5s. This is a single frame from that video, cropped and highly edited to bring out the phase of Mercury:


I then took this iPhone 5s photo of the western sky and observatory:


When I returned to the observatory and swapped 2" eyepieces, I noticed that the eyepiece holder tube on the Meade 2" diagonal was slightly loose on the diagonal box. It would not rotate, but would wiggle on the diagonal. I switched to my older OPT 2" diagonal. I will investigate the problem with the Meade diagonal.

I then did some testing of my new accessories.

By 1818 MST, Mercury was obscured by the clouds which were getting higher in the sky. At 1826 MST, viewed Jupiter at 83X and 222X. Four moons were visible. I tried viewing Jupiter using 444X, but the seeing was not good enough.

1838 MST: clouds were now over most of the western half of the sky. At 1844 MST, slewed to the M82 galaxy. Using 83X, the newly discovered supernova SN2014j was easily seen 32 minutes before the end of Astronomical Twilight. Unfortunately, clouds were approaching its position so no imaging was done. Jupiter, in the eastern sky, was already in the clouds.

1848 MST: tried for NGC2336 (galaxy) using 83X. It was not visible due to thin clouds at its location. I decided to close up for the night.

Closed: Sunday, 26 January 2014, 1908 MST
Temperature: 54°F

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