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Neptune and Triton, iPhone Sky Photography

Posted: 15 October 2014

During the previous night in the observatory I had a problem with one of the ScopeStuff 'Blinky' Anti-Collision Lights I use on the tripod inside the observatory and when taking telescopes to star parties. The ON/OFF switch is beginning to fail and won't reliably turn on the red LED. I purchased the lights over 9 years ago and have used them very frequently in the observatory for the past five years, so I guess I should not be surprised that I've worn out the switch on one of them. I don't yet know if I'll replace the light. I don't expect to need them inside the observatory once I replace the tripod with a pier (still in work). The lights are useful at star parties though, so I may indeed replace it or get a complete new set from ScopeStuff. I've heard that the lights have been slightly redesigned.

Observatory opening Tuesday night was delayed as I attended a meeting of the Friends of Oracle State Park to update them on the Park's "International Dark Sky Park" designation.

Opened: Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 2002 MST
Temperature: 71°F
Session: 729
Conditions: Clear, breezy

2009 MST: viewed Neptune, 83X. Began setting up to image its moon Triton again. Mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 2X PowerMate. Did a focus test using the Bahtinov Mask on the star Fomalhaut. Did 10 second and 5 second exposures, ISO 6400. This is a 10 second exposure:

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap to see animation

If you mouseover the image or tap on it (touchscreen) you can see Neptune and Triton change position against the background stars over two nights.

2026 MST: began a visual search for Triton, 166X. No joy. Tried 222X and 83X. Still no joy. Just too faint (Mag +13) for the night's observing conditions. Gave up at 2048 MST.

2054 MST: viewed Uranus, 83X.

Then set up for iPhone 5s sky photography using the iOS app "NightCap Pro" and a GorillaPod. This photo, 60 seconds, shows Perseus, the Pleiades, and part of Auriga (bottom):


I tried some other sky photos but the focus kept changing during the exposure, blurring out the stars, even though the focus was locked.

2123 MST: ended iPhone sky photography.

2135 MST: Did some sky quality measurements using a Unihedron SQM-L meter and the iOS app "Dark Sky Meter". SQM-L reported 21.11. Good but definitely not my best reading at Cassiopeia Observatory.

Closed: Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 2153 MST
Temperature: 69°F

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