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iPhone Jupiter Tests, Moon

Posted: 5 February 2015

Clouds came in on Tuesday, 3 February 2015, wiping out an opportunity for imaging the International Space Station (ISS) that night. But the sky was clear on Wednesday, 4 February, for another ISS imaging opportunity.

Open: Wednesday, 4 February 2015, 1806 MST
Temperature: 73°F
Session: 775
Conditions: Mostly clear

After opening the observatory I synced the observatory clock to WWV. I then updated the ISS TLE for the night's pass using the AutoStar.

1824 MST: viewed Venus, 83X. Using 222X, a slight gibbous phase was visible.

1834 MST: slewed the 8" LX200-ACF to M42 (Orion Nebula) and began observing the Trapezium, 222X, as twilight was ending. After a few minutes switched to 83X and began watching the nebula appear as the sky brightness dimmed.

1843 MST: saw a bright satellite passing below Orion and moving eastward. As it approached the star Sirius it became almost as bright as Sirius. It was the Hubble Space Telescope.

1851 MST: added the Televue 2X PowerMate and began observing M42 at 166X.

1900 MST: began preparing for the ISS pass. Mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + 2X PowerMate. Used Rigel for a focus test using the Bahtinov Mask. Tweaked the finderscope alignment. At 1905 MST: the eastern sky was beginning to brighten due to the rising waning gibbous moon. The Zodiacal Light was faintly visible in the western sky about 20 minutes before the end of Astronomical Twilight. 1910 MST: I was ready for the ISS pass which would begin at 1933 MST.

1922 MST: while waiting for the ISS pass to start, I noticed some clouds in the eastern sky being illuminated by the rising moon. A jet contrail looked like a long comet tail. Wish it had been a comet! This handheld photograph (slightly cropped from the full-frame photo) was taken using NightCap Pro on my iPhone 5s and shows Jupiter (bright object below center), the star Procyon (at the right), some moonlit clouds (bottom), and the long "comet tail" (lower right):


1933 MST: picked up the ISS visually just above the southwestern horizon. I began to wonder how close the telescope would be to pointing in the right direction when it began tracking. I monitored the ISS in the sky for a few seconds and decided that pointing was going to be way off. Began manually slewing the telescope to the ISS as the tracking began. By the time I caught up with the ISS the short pass was half over. Tracking was not very good at this point. After making lots of manual tracking corrections I realized I had forgetten to start the video recording on the camera! Argh! Had never done that before. By this point, the ISS was entering the earth's shadow and fading out. Fortunately, an excellent pass will occur Thursday evening and the weather forecast is for clear skies.

1955 MST: removed the camera from the telescope and took a quick look at the moon, low in the east, 83X. Then took a quick look at Jupiter, 83X. The four Galilean Moons were visible. Began setting up for iPhone imaging of Jupiter. Mounted the iPhone using the modified MX-1 Afocal Adapter using a 9mm eyepiece (222X). I did some slo-mo (120 fps) video recordings using some digital zoom on the camera. I then added a 2X Barlow Lens (444X) and did more slo-mo digital zoom recordings. Switched to a 3X Telenegative and took more slo-mo digital zoom video recordings. All recordings were 20 seconds in length. During post-processing the recordings were stacked using Keith's Image Stacker, with final editing in GraphicConverter. Here are the results:




Using 444X with some digital zoom seemed to yield the best image. I plan to do more tests on future sessions and will probably use 444X.

2024 MST: ended imaging tests. Removed the iPhone from the telescope and slewed to the moon. Nice view at 83X, with a slight terminator visible. This iPhone afocal photograph was taken handheld over the 2" 24mm UWA (83X) eyepiece:


Close: Wednesday, 4 February 2015, 2045 MST
Temperature: 55°F

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