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Kitt Peak; D7200 Cygnus Loop Nebula, Crescent Nebula, Pluto;
iPhone Swan Nebula

Posted: 9 July 2015

Wednesday afternoon, 8 July 2015, I took a couple of photographs of Kitt Peak National Observatory, 65 miles to the southwest of Cassiopeia Observatory. The first one shows a "sunglint" reflecting off the WIYN observatory:

Click or tap on image for larger version

This photo shows Cassiopeia Observatory with its big brother Kitt Peak National Observatory on the mountain top above and to the right of the SkyShed POD:

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After being mostly cloudy during the day on Wednesday, the sky finally mostly cleared about an hour after sunset, so I opened the observatory.

Open: Wednesday, 8 July 2015, 2059 MST
Temperature: 83°F
Session: 846
Conditions: Mostly clear, breezy

2107 MST: viewed Saturn, 83X. Then began preparing to image the Cygnus Loop Nebula. Mounted the D7200 DSLR piggyback on the 8" LX200-ACF telescope. Did a focus test on the star Deneb using the Gerd Neumann Bahtinov Mask for Camera Lens at a focal length of 140mm. This is a guided (using an illuminated reticle eyepiece on the 8" telescope) f/5.6, 2 minute, ISO 20000, FL 140mm, exposure (cropped):


Next, I unmounted the camera from the piggyback position, added a f/6.3 focal reducer to the telescope, and mounted the DSLR using an off-axis guider (OAG). Did a focus test on Deneb using the telescope Bahtinov Mask. This is NGC6888 (Crescent Nebula), guided, 5 minutes, ISO 12800 (cropped):


During the exposure distant lightning to the east was lighting up the dome of the observatory.

2230 MST: Finished DSO imaging and slewed to Antares in preparation for imaging Pluto. Removed the focal reducer and OAG and mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus of the 8" telescope. Did a focus test with the Mask on Antares. Powered on the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and did a GOTO Pluto using SkySafari Pro on the iPhone. There were now clouds in the southeast (near Pluto), the southwest, and the north, with frequent distant lightning flashes.

2300 MST: imaged Pluto at prime focus, unguided, 1 minute, ISO 6400. This was 24 hours after my previous Pluto image. On my previous report I made a guess as to Pluto's position using SkySafari Pro on the iPhone. As it turned out, I was correct.



The images from 7 July and 8 July have been combined to show the planet's motion in 24 hours (center):


2308 MST: after removing the camera from the telescope, viewed M16 (Eagle Nebula), then M17 (Swan Nebula), 83X. I decided to try to image the Swan Nebula with the iPhone 5s using NightCap Pro. I have been beta testing a new version of the iOS app with Apple Watch support. Mounted the iPhone on the 8" telescope using the Magnilux MX-1 Afocal Adapter at 77X. This is a 1 minute exposure with NightCap Pro (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/2sec):


And this is how the Deep Sky Object (DSO) appeared on the Apple Watch:


It is really cool to be able to see a live view of DSOs on the Apple Watch using NightCap Pro. You can also start/stop the exposure using the Apple Watch. The new version of NightCap Pro should be released soon.

2321 MST: Due to increasing clouds and lightning flashes, decided to close up for the night.

Close: Wednesday, 7 July 2015, 2338 MST
Temperature: 76°F
Session Length: 02h 39m
Conditions: Increasing cloud cover

On the previous report I showed some iPhone 5s DSO astrophotography done using NightCap Pro. Since it can now be revealed that those images were taken with a pre-release of a new version of NightCap Pro that includes Apple Watch support, I can show how those images of the DSOs appeared on the Apple Watch:

M27 Dumbbell Nebula:

M57 Ring Nebula:

M22 globular cluster:

The actual views on the Watch look way better than the screen captures.

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