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Good ISS Pass but...;
iPhone Orion Nebula Imaging

Posted: 26 February 2015

Cloudy skies continued until Wednesday 25 February 2015. Even had a little rain on Tuesday, 24 February. Total was 0.1", with some small hail as well. (I updated my Netatmo Weather Station review to discuss the rain measurements since it was the first rain that the Rain Gauge had received.)

Open: Wednesday, 25 February 2015, 1806 MST
Temperature: 66°F
Session: 785
Conditions: Clear, breezy

After opening the observatory I noticed that the observatory clock had the wrong date/time. There had been a widespread brief power outage that morning and the clock backup battery apparently failed (it will be replaced). SYNCed the clock using WWV.

1814 MST: viewed Venus, 83X. Slight gibbous phase visible.

Then updated the TLE for the evening's good pass of the International Space Station (ISS). 1817 MST: sunset.

Slewed to the Moon and mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus for this image, 1/250sec, ISO 640:


Added the Televue 2X PowerMate for these images of the north and south pole regions, 1/400sec and 1/350sec, representively, ISO 2500:



Having focused on the Moon, I locked the telescope focus and tweaked the finderscope alignment. 1837 MST: ready for the ISS pass to began at 1849 MST, which would be against a slightly bright twilight sky.

1849 MST: the ISS pass began and I did HD video recording, 1/1250sec, ISO 4000, at prime focus + 2X PowerMate. Initial pointing was good and tracking was the best I've ever had. This was a good high elevation pass and the ISS became very bright. BUT, in post-processing, while the ISS was easily seen in the video, the station was not very sharp, either due to underexposure, focus slippage, or poor seeing. I suspect poor seeing was the culprit. No matter what the cause, the good tracking was wasted as no frames provided a good image of the ISS. Rats.

1905 MST: did some "star tests" for the book review I'm working on.

1920 MST: completed the tests. Using my 12x70 binoculars, I scanned the western sky for Comet C/2015 D1 (SOHO). Didn't see it; too faint, if it even survived its close pass to the Sun.

Slewed to M42 (Orion Nebula) and did some imaging with NightCap Pro and an iPhone 5s mounted on the 8" LX200-ACF using my modified MX-1 Afocal Adapter. This afocal 77X image turned out pretty nice, even with a First Quarter Moon nearby:


2004 MST: ended iPhone imaging. Took a quick at M42, 83X. Then slewed to Jupiter. The four Galilean Moons were visible. At 166X, it was obvious that seeing was not very good this night. I decided to defer Jupiter imaging to another night.

Returned to the Moon for some terminator observing, 166X. 2023 MST: last look at the Moon, 83X.

Close: Wednesday, 25 February 2015, 2034 MST
Temperature: 48°F

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