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iPhone Deep Sky Object Imaging

Posted: 24 October 2014

Observatory opening was delayed due to a meeting of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee.

Opened: Thursday, 23 October 2014, 2103 MST
Temperature: 66°F
Session: 733
Conditions: Thin clouds in north half of sky

2110 MST: briefly viewed M57 (Ring Nebula), 83X. Then began setting up try deep sky object imaging using the iPhone 5s with the iOS app "NightCap Pro". Used the modified MX-1 Afocal Adapter at 77X. The Earbuds/Mic volume control was used a remote shutter release. NightCap Pro was set for Night Mode, Long Exposure, and Light Boost.

This is the Ring Nebula, 1 minute exposure:


Wow, impressive for a smartphone! I wanted to do more M57 imaging but the thin clouds were beginning to interfere.

Slewed to the Double Cluster. I really needed to add a focal reducer, but the clouds were becoming a concern in that part of the sky so I decided to not take the time to add it. Still, not a bad image of the Double Cluster, 1 minute exposure:


Next was M45 (the Pleiades). Only a portion was visible in the field-of-view at 77X since I didn't take the time (due to the clouds) to add the focal reducer. This is a 2 minute exposure:


I discovered that having somewhat faint stars in the image helped reduce the focus changing. Even though the focus was locked in NightCap Pro, iOS will sometimes override it and move the image out-of-focus, even during an exposure. The Pleiades image above is just slightly out-of-focus.

2156 MST: ended iPhone DSO imaging and removed the iPhone from the 8" LX200-ACF. I wanted to do more iPhone imaging but the clouds were in too much of the sky. I will do more on future sessions.

2206 MST: viewed M38 (open cluster), 83X. M38 is my next Messier object imaging target (for my Messier photo album). Unfortunately, it was too low in the sky and clouds were increasing. Decided to end the session.

Closed: Thursday, 23 October 2014, 2218 MST
Temperature: 66°F

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