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Crescent Moon, Western Sky,
International Space Station (ISS)

Posted: 22 April 2015

Unforecasted clouds appeared mid-day on Monday, 20 April 2015. By sunset it was mostly overcast. Missed out on a good Jupiter Moons Mutual Event (Io eclipsing Europa). But in the "good news" department, Adobe released Lightroom 6 on Tuesday, 21 April, with Raw support for the Nikon D7200 DSLR. I had intended to download it but an Adobe web site glitch prevented me from purchasing it. Hope to get it soon and then I will make the switch from Aperture to Lightroom. The sky initially cleared on Tuesday, but more unforecasted clouds appeared mid-afternoon. Opened the observatory anyway since I wanted to try to image a good pass of the International Space Station (ISS).

Open: Tuesday, 21 April 2015, 1814 MST
Temperature: 84°F
Session: 813
Conditions: Clouds in west

1822 MST: viewed Venus, then crescent Moon, 83X. Both visible through gaps in clouds.

Updated the ISS TLE for the night's pass. Sky not looking promising. 1837 MST: clouds now covering most of the western half of the sky.

1857 MST: did a handheld iPhone 5s afocal 83X photo of the Moon through the 8" LX200-ACF:


1859 MST: sunset. 1914 MST: sky now mostly covered with clouds, but there were thinner spots in places.

1915 MST: viewed Jupiter, 166X. Three moons visible. 1920 MST: returned to the Moon and viewed it at 166X. There were some nice sights even with the view through thin clouds. Did some handheld iPhone afocal 166X photos:



1938 MST: took this handheld D7200 DSLR photo of the crescent Moon (left), Venus (right), and the star Aldebaran (bottom), f/5.6, 1/5sec, ISO 1600, FL 140mm:


1940 MST: handheld D7200 DSLR photo of the western sky showing the star Sirius (at left), the constellation of Orion (center), the Moon, Venus (right), and the star Aldebaran (below the Moon):


And just for comparison, took this handheld iPhone 5s photo of the same scene with NightCap Pro v6:


1957 MST: the sky was looking better for the upcoming ISS pass, although there were still thin clouds in most of the sky. I began preparing for the pass. Mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus + TeleVue 2X PowerMate. Did a focus test on the star Capella using the Bahtinov Mask and checked the finderscope alignment. 2010 MST: ready for the ISS pass, which would rise behind a tree. 2022 MST: strong breezes kicked up suddenly, but there were only thin clouds now. 2024 MST: began doing a HD video recording, 1.3X crop factor, 60 fps, 1/1250sec, ISO 5000, with the 8" telescope tracking the ISS. While seeing was not great due to the thin clouds, some frames of the video had good images of the ISS. Here are three views of the ISS during the pass:


This was my first attempt at imaging the ISS using my new D7200 DSLR. (Past ISS images taken with the D7000 and iPhone are on the Satellite Astrophotography Album page.)

After the ISS pass was over, thin clouds were making most of the stars fuzzy, so decided to end the session.

Close: Tuesday, 21 April 2015, 2049 MST
Temperature: 64°F

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