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Crescent Moon, Venus, and Mercury

Posted: 22 January 2015

Clouds ended my previous session on Saturday and cloudy nights continued until Wednesday, 21 January 2015.

Open: Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 1813 MST
Temperature: 60°F
Session: 771
Conditions: Partly Cloudy

1819 MST: first viewed Mercury, 83X. Half-phase visible. Then Venus, 83X. Gibbous phase visible. Then the thin crescent Moon, 83X. Earthshine very bright, with some surface features very visible. This handheld iPhone afocal 83X photo of the Moon shows nice details on the sunlit portion:


I went out of the observatory and at 1828 MST took this D7000 DSLR, f/4.2, 1/15sec, ISO 1600, FL 34mm, photo:

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image to see labels

Mercury is faintly visible in the above photo. If you can't find it, mouseover (or tap) the image to see the labels pointing out Mercury. Earthshine is also visible on the Moon. The observatory dome is on the left.

Also visible in the above photo are some of the clouds in the sky. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was increasing.

Returned to the observatory. Mounted the iPhone on the 8" LX200-ACF using the MX-1 Afocal Adapter with a 26mm eyepiece. Could not get the entire lunar disk in the field-of-view (FOV) so added a f/6.3 focal reducer, yielding 48X. This cropped iPhone photo shows the Earthshine:


1842 MST: resumed observing the Moon, 53X. Clouds were now in much of the sky.

1856 MST: slewed to NGC7380 (Wizard Nebula), but thin clouds hampered viewing. Nebula was not visible at 53X. I had been wanting to image this nebula for the past few nights but clouds kept me out of the observatory. This night was the last night I would be able to image it due to conflicts on upcoming nights and the waxing moon brightening the sky. Will have to wait a few months to try again.

1903 MST: decided to end the session as the sky was now mostly overcast.

Close: Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 1917 MST
Temperature: 50°F

Back in August 2014 I reported that the CFO (wife) had approved a pier for the observatory. I contacted a local metal shop to see if they could make one from the plans supplied with my SkyShed POD. After waiting several months without any action I have given up on them. I began researching piers again, but I am still leaning towards a SkyShed Pier, although a nice (and more costly) alternative is the Pier Tech 2 - 120V Electro-Mechanical Telescope Pier. Since the CFO has also now approved the purchase of a Meade 12" LX600 with Equatorial Wedge in 2016, I have decided to defer the pier purchase until 2016 to ensure the pier is matched to the LX600.

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