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iPhone 5s NightCap Pro Imaging: Pleiades, Flame Nebula, Crab Nebula

Posted: 9 March 2015

The Oracle Dark Skies Committee supported the special presentation "Adventures with the Moon" at Oracle State Park Saturday evening, 7 March 2015. You can read the report on the ODSC web site.

As mentioned in the above report, Saturday night was cloudy so I did not open the observatory after returning home from the Park. Sunday, 8 March, the sky cleared up.

Open: Sunday, 8 March 2015, 1841 MST
Temperature: 72°F
Session: 790
Conditions: Mostly clear

1852 MST: viewed Venus, 83X. Also in the field-of-view (FOV) was the nice double star Zeta Piscium. Switched to 77X using a MX-1 Afocal Adapter for this iPhone 5s iOS Camera app image (Venus is overexposed):


1908 MST: slewed to M45 (Pleiades) and added the Antares f/6.3 focal reducer for tonight's iPhone DSO imaging. I then did some FOV testing with and without a visual back extension. I also varied the order of the accessories. I determined that the widest FOV was with the order FR + extension + visual back + diagonal + eyepiece.

1930 MST: the Zodiacal Light was very bright 18 minutes before the end of Astronomical Twilight.

As Astronomical Twilight was ending I began taking images of M45, afocal 48X, using NightCap Pro. This is a stack using Lynkeos of 5 2-minute exposures (Long Exposure, Light Boost):


Wasn't able to capture any nebulosity around the stars of the Pleiades.

I then decided to try a challenge: NGC2024 (Flame Nebula). This is a stack of 5 2-minute exposures (Long Exposure, Light Boost):


The Flame Nebula is just barely visible at the center. But I got it using NightCap Pro!

I tried an even more difficult object: IC434 (Horsehead Nebula). But wasn't able to get it imaged, which wasn't surprising.

I slewed to M1 (Crab Nebula) and did 5 2-minute exposures (Long Exposure, Light Boost), with this stacked result:


2044 MST: ended iPhone DSO imaging. Obviously, using NightCap Pro with the iPhone, especially later models, can allow imaging of Deep Sky Objects, even some faint ones. Amazing.

2103 MST: viewed Jupiter, 83X. Four moons visible. Eastern sky was beginning to brighten due to the rising waning gibbous moon. Decided to end the session. I'll be doing more NightCap Pro DSO imaging on future sessions.

Close: Sunday, 8 March 2015, 2118 MST
Temperature: 55°F

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