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Memories of Leonard Nimoy;
Venus/Uranus Conjunction, Jupiter Moons, Moon

Posted: 5 March 2015

As many were all around the world, I was saddened to learn of the death of Leonard Nimoy on Friday, 27 February 2015. I have been a Star Trek fan from the beginning in 1966 (when I was a freshman in Astrophysics at Indiana University). Here's a "selfie" of me with Mr. Spock in my dorm room circa 1967:


I still have the poster on the wall. And yes, I'm holding an issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.

When IU went to the Rose Bowl in 1968 I traveled to California as part of a student group. On 30 December 1967 we had a tour of Universal Studios. Our tram stopped at one point and I looked over towards a building and there was Leonard Nimoy getting out of a car. I grabbed a couple of photos. These are scanned from my 35mm slides. It was exciting to see him.


As forecast, cloudy skies continued on Friday, 27 February, along with strong winds. Had 0.83" of rain on Monday, 2 March. The sky began clearing during the day on Wednesday, 4 March, so I decided to open the observatory that evening to at least observe the close conjunction of Venus and Uranus.

Open: Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 1820 MST
Temperature: 67°F
Session: 787
Conditions: Mostly clear

1827 MST: viewed Venus, 83X. Gibbous phase visible. 1834 MST: slewed to Uranus, which was 23.5 arcmin from Venus. That's less than the diameter of the Full Moon. The sky was still too bright to see faint Uranus, but Venus was in the eyepiece field-of-view. 1835 MST: viewed Mars, 83X, which was 5° from Venus. A small disk was visible. Then slewed back to Uranus. 1845 MST: Uranus was now visible at 83X. Took this handheld iPhone 5s afocal 83X photo showing Uranus (lower left) and Venus (upper right) at 1849 MST:


At 1900 MST I took this handheld D7000 DSLR photograph of the western sky, f/4.8, 1/20sec, ISO 1600, FL 125mm, showing three planets (Uranus in magnified insert):


Mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus of the 8" LX200-ACF. This iPhone photo shows the DSLR Live View screen with Venus (lower left) and Uranus (upper right):


Did a focus test exposure on the star Rigel using a Bahtinov Mask. 1922 MST: this D7000 DSLR photo, 1/10sec, ISO 3200, clearly shows the color of Uranus (upper right) with an overexposed Venus (lower left):


Added the Televue 2X PowerMate, did a focus test exposure on the star Procyon using the Bahtinov Mask, then slewed to Jupiter. Four moons were visible. This image is a composite of two exposures, one of Jupiter at 1/160sec, ISO 1600, and the Galilean Moons at 1/10sec, ISO 1600:


Next, I did some HD video recordings of Jupiter. This is a stack of 983 frames, 1/200sec, ISO 1600, using Keith's Image Stacker:


The Great Red Spot is visible in the image.

I then did some short test HD video recordings at various exposure settings in preparation to record some upcoming Jovian Moons Mutual Events (eclipses and occultations) on future sessions. Click the image below to see a 2 second HD video, 1/30sec, ISO 5000:

Click or tap on image for video

2001 MST: slewed to the nearly Full Moon and took this photo, prime focus + 2X PowerMate, 1/400sec, ISO 1250, showing the southern region of the Moon:


Then removed the camera and 2X PowerMate and viewed the Moon, 83X. This handheld iPhone 5s afocal photo was taken at 2005 MST:


2013 MST: took a last look at Venus and Uranus, 83X, now low in the western sky. Nice view.

Close: Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 2026 MST
Temperature: 46°F

I have posted my review of the book "Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes.

As the Chair, Oracle Dark Skies Committee, I gave a short presentation to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, 4 March 2015. You can view a video of the presentation on the Oracle Dark Skies Committee web site.

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