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iPhone 5s Saturn; D7000 DSLR ISS, Comet PanSTARRS;
iCSC iOS app

Posted: 23 June 2014

Opened: Sunday, 22 June 2014, 1943 MST
Temperature: 91°F
Session: 697
Conditions: Clear, slight breeze

Although I was still exhausted from the "Live Music & Star Party" at Oracle State Park on Saturday, 21 June, I wanted to open the observatory Sunday evening. I had to move a lot of stuff I had used at the Star Party back into the observatory. Once that was done, I started observing.

1944 MST: Jupiter, low in the western sky, 83X. The four Galilean Moons were visible.

I then started to sync the observatory clock in preparation for the night's excellent pass of the International Space Station (ISS). However, when I switched to the Set Time mode, the clock locked up. I powered off/on the clock; still locked. With the power cord disconnected I removed and re-inserted the battery. When I plugged the AC cord back in the clock was running again. Whew. I was then able to sync the clock (manually) to WWV. Once I finished that, I discovered that my red flashlight battery was dying. Had to replace that. I began thinking "what will go wrong next?". As it turned out, nothing did go wrong the rest of the session. I updated the ISS TLE using the AutoStar.

2019 MST: Mars, 83X; no details visible. Using 222X the North Polar Cap was barely visible, but there was a bright sunset cloud visible near the north pole. Seeing was not good but I decided to try to image Mars anyway. Mounted the iPhone 5s on the 8" using my homemade afocal adapter. This is a stack of 281 slo-mo (120 fps) frames, taken afocally at 888X:


Not a very good image but some surface dark areas are visible. The sunset cloud near the north pole didn't capture well.

2031 MST: viewed Saturn, 222X. The view at Saturn was very good. There were four moons visible. The view of the planet and Ring system was good at 444X. Set up for iPhone afocal imaging. This is a stack of 294 slo-mo frames, 444X:


2040 MST: began preparing for the ISS pass. Mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 2X Powermate. Focused using Saturn; locked the telescope focus. Checked the finderscope alignment; it was OK. 2047 MST: everything was ready for the pass to start at 2101 MST. Once the pass started, tracking was pretty good for most of the first half. These are some of the individual frames from the HD video recording, 1/1000sec, ISO 4000, showing from early in the pass to near the zenith:


The images show the changing apparent size and perspective of the ISS as it moved along on its orbit around the Earth.

2115 MST: viewed Comet C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS), 83X. The coma and a short tail were visible. Added a f/6.3 focal reducer and mounted the D7000 DSLR using the off-axis guider. Did a focus test on the star Regulus using a Bahtinov Mask, then locked the telescope focus. Slewed back to the comet but could not quickly find any guide stars. As the comet was already low in the western sky I decided to just do some unguided exposures. This is a 1 minute, ISO 6400, exposure, showing the comet. There is a faint galaxy in the lower righthand corner.


2139 MST: completed imaging. Took a quick look at the comet, 83X, then began closing up, as I was still fairly tired after the long previous day of activities for the star party. No Kissing Bugs were seen this night. Their season is now probably over.

Closed: Sunday, 22 June 2014, 2157 MST
Temperature: 79°F

An iOS app that I have been beta testing is now available on the Apple App Store. If you use the Clear Sky Chart (CSC) night sky conditions forecast web site and you have an iOS device, you will want to get "iCSC: Clear Sky Chart Viewer" (free). If you don't use CSC you will still want to get the app and start using CSC. The app shows all the chart locations available in North America, has a search capability, a map of nearby sites based on your location, and favorites selection. Now you can get check CSC easily on your iPhone or iPad.



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