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Nikon D7200 DSLR Astrophotography Tests

Posted: 9 April 2015

Following my successful but somewhat cloudy imaging of the Total Lunar Eclipse Saturday morning, 4 April 2015, the sky remained mostly overcast for the next several nights. Lost several ISS imaging opportunities. And of course, lost more nights that could have been used to try out my new D7200 DSLR for astrophotography. Tuesday, 7 April, the sky tried to clear up and looked like this in the North/East/South/West at 1648 MST:


Not conducive to productive activities in the observatory. Cloud cover continued to increase that evening with strong winds blowing. Wednesday, 8 April, was finally clear but hazy with some wind blowing. I was happy to be able to open the observatory that night and to use the new D7200 DSLR for some astrophotography tests.

Open: Wednesday, 8 April 2015, 1809 MST
Temperature: 79°F
Session: 805
Conditions: Clear but hazy, very breezy

Unlike at the start of my previous session, the telescope got a valid GPS fix on startup. Whew.

1822 MST: viewed Venus, 83X. Near half phase. Seeing was not very good. Began setting up for some D7200 DSLR tests. Here is a frame from one of the test HD videos, eyepiece projection 444X:


1851 MST: sunset. Slewed to Jupiter for some more D7200 test videos. Three moons were visible: Ganymede, Io, and Europa. This is a frame (cropped) from one of the video tests, eyepiece projection 222X, showing the moons and planet:


This is a frame (not cropped) from another video of Jupiter, eyepiece projection 222X:


1941 MST: completed D7200 video recording tests. Did some handheld sky photography. This is one of the tests, focal length 18mm, showing Orion (left), Hyades (middle), Venus (right), and the Pleiades (above Venus):


This is a handheld, focal length 140mm, photo of the Pleiades and Venus:


And Orion's Belt and Sword, focal length 140mm:


2008 MST: strong breezes had ended. Mounted the D7200 DSLR on a photographic tripod for a field-of-view (FOV) test image. I then took a short break to get a warmer coat as the temperature was dropping rapidly. 2025 MST: returned to the observatory and began setting up to do D7000 vs D7200 comparison images of the Leo Triplet of Galaxies (M65, M66, and NGC3628). Added the f/6.3 focal reducer to the 8" LX200-ACF (to get all three galaxies in the FOV). Then did a series of 1 minute exposures (unguided) at many ISO settings with each camera. 2135 MST: completed the imaging tests.

I'll report on the night's tests on my upcoming D7200 DSLR review.

2154 MST: viewed the Leo Triplet, 83X. All were visible in the FOV. Then viewed M87 galaxy, 83X. I had previously imaged the M87 jet from its black hole using the D7000, and I plan to try to get a better image using the D7200 on a future session.

2206 MST: clouds had now covered most of the southern half of the sky so starting closing up for the night.

Close: Wednesday, 8 April 2015, 2220 MST
Temperature: 51°F

This Spring is the 10th anniversary of my first observing from Oracle, Arizona. My first observing trip to the land that we purchased in 2004 was on 12 March 2005. My report of that initial visit is on my old "Oracle Observatory" web site. My next visit was on 2 April 2005. I was able to come to Oracle Observatory about once a month for a night or two from March 2005 through June 2007 while we were still living in Southern California. During this "Oracle Observatory 10th Anniversary Year" I plan to mention each visit I made in 2005.

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