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Some Updates, Unboxed Donated Vixen Telescope,
iPhone Sun Imaging

Posted: 20 December 2014

On Wednesday, 10 December 2014, I was a judge at a local school Science Fair and saw lots of fascinating projects. The winners will go to the Arizona Regional Science Fair in Tucson in March 2015. On Thursday, 11 December, I was interviewed for an upcoming article in Phoenix Magazine on Oracle State Park being designated as an "International Dark Sky Park". The writer had published a previous Dark Sky Places article in May 2015: "Q: What Are The Best Places For Night-Sky Viewing?".

Cloudy skies continued at Cassiopeia Observatory. Got 0.55" of rain on Saturday, 13 December, and another 0.72" of much needed rain on Wednesday, 17 December. Another 0.27" of rain fell on Thursday, 18 December.

As a rainy day project on Thursday, 18 December, I set up the telescope that was donated to Oracle State Park by Mr. Star Guy in honor of the Park being named the first "International Dark Sky Park" in the Arizona State Parks system. The telescope is a Vixen A80Mf Refractor Telescope on a Vixen GP2 Equatorial Mount with Tripod. The telescope is a f/11.3, 80mm, 910mm focal length refractor and came a 1.25" star diagonal, 1.25" visual back, and two 1.25" Plossl eyepieces (20mm and 6.3mm) yielding 45X and 144X respectively. A motor drive is also being donated but has not yet been received. Here's a photo of the Vixen telescope:


The sky dawned clear on Friday, 19 December, raising my hopes for a clear night. Unfortunately, clouds began appearing mid-day. Argh. Saturday mid-morning the skies cleared again, although there were some clouds approaching from the west. After completing some chores, the clouds were still to the west so went out to the observatory.

Open: Saturday, 20 December 2014, 1236 MST
Temperature: 70°F
Session: 755
Conditions: Mostly clear, some clouds to west

1249 MST: viewed the sun in the PST (Hydrogen-Alpha telescope) at 15X. Nice view of four small prominences and several filaments. Good details visible on the disk. Then viewed the sun at 83X through the 8" with an Orion full aperture solar filter. Two large sunspot groups were visible, along with several small sunspots.

Next, I wanted to try adding a brace to the front end of the PST solar telescope to better align it when mounted piggyback on the 8" LX200-ACF, as seen here. As it is, the optical tube is not precisely aligned with the 8" telescope, meaning that a small amount of slewing in Declination is required to center the sun in each telescope. With the piggyback adapter in my original position, the tube front is too high, so I reversed the piggyback adapter on the 8" OTA and remounted the PST. That lowered the front of the PST too much and required too much torque on the tube to raise it into position to be aligned with the 8" OTA. Obviously, this piggyback adapter is not going to allow the tubes to be completely aligned. Guess I'll have to get a better adapter some day.

1310 MST: I set up for afocal imaging using the iPhone 5s and my modified MX-1 afocal adapter. Clouds were now at the sun and getting thicker, but the sun was still visible although seeing was not very good. I first did some sun imaging through the PST at 15X. I did several photos using various digital zoom amounts and exposure adjustments. This was the best image (slightly cropped):


Moved the MX-1 and iPhone to the 8" telescope at 83X. Imaged the two sunspot groups; AR2241 on the right and AR2242 on the left in the cropped image below:


Clouds were definitely hampering my imaging. 1334 MST: took a final look at the sun, 83X. Clouds were now in most of the sky.

Close: Saturday, 20 December 2014, 1350 MST
Temperature: 66°F

I recently updated my review of SkySafari Pro for Mac OS X. Check it out. Also, I will be reviewing Starry Night Pro Plus 7 soon.

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