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Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2

Posted: 22 March 2015

After viewing and photographing the newly discovered Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 before sunrise on Tuesday, 17 March 2015, the sky became overcast. Even had some rain on Wednesday, 18 March (0.21"), and Thursday, 19 March (0.27"). Friday, 20 March, dawned with clearing skies (but not in time to view the nova), however clouds returned mid-morning.

Saturday, 21 March, dawned clear, which was good since that was the big celebration day and night for Oracle State Park being designated as the first IDA "International Dark Sky Park" in the Arizona State Parks system. My report will be available on the Oracle Dark Skies Committee web site once I collect many of the photos of the day long event.

When I returned home from the celebration event and star party at 2300 MST I was rather pooped out so didn't open the observatory. However, I did get up early the next morning to view the brightening nova in Sagittarius. After spending an hour doing photos, I took a long nap before preparing this report.

Open: Sunday, 22 March 2015, 0404 MST
Temperature: 55°F
Session: 795
Conditions: Clear

Did not use the 8" LX200-ACF. Set up the D7000 DSLR on the observatory patio to photograph the constellation of Sagittarius and Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2.

0421 MST: I first used my 12x70 binoculars to view the nova, which was easily visible in the binoculars. I then viewed some nearby stars in the binoculars to see which mostly matched the nova's brightness. I located SAO 186612, which at Magnitude +4.65 closely matched the nova.

As Sagittarius rose higher in the southeast sky, the nova became visible to the naked eye.

I then began photographing the sky. Did a focus test image with the Gerd Neumann Bahtinov Mask using Saturn. 0432 MST: took this f/5.6, 5 seconds, ISO 6400, FL 105mm, photo of the northern portion of Sagittarius:

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0449 MST: took this slightly cropped photo, f/3.5, 15 seconds, ISO 4000, FL 18mm:

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0451 MST: ended sky photography. 0455 MST: with Sagittarius now a little higher in the southeast sky, the nova was very easy to see with the unaided eye.

0503 MST: start of Astronomical Twilight. Ended the session.

Close: Sunday, 22 March 2015, 0504 MST
Temperature: 56°F

I have ordered the new Nikon D7200 DSLR from OPT. I have had my D7000 DSLR for 4.5 years. It is still a good camera, but I decided to upgrade to the D7200 to get the way higher native ISO for astrophotography. And the ISO 102,400 B&W mode should be interesting to try for astrophotography. The 60fps video will come in handy for planetary imaging and ISS moon/sun transits. All my D7000 accessories will work with the D7200 so nothing new to buy. I will post a review as soon as possible after receiving it.

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