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Imaging: Moon, International Space Station

Posted: 24 October 2015

Open: Friday, 23 October 2015, 1806 MST
Temperature: 73°F
Session: 869
Conditions: Mostly clear

1813 MST: viewed the Moon, 83X. Took this handheld iPhone 5s afocal photo:


Then began preparing to image the International Space Station (ISS) during its excellent pass this night. Updated the ISS TLE (from Heavens-Above). Mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus + 2X PowerMate. Did a focus test on the star Altair using a Bahtinov Mask. Locked the telescope focus and checked the finderscope alignment (OK). Everything was in readiness for the ISS pass.

I spotted the ISS with the naked eye as it rose above a tree northwest of the observatory and when the AutoStar countdown timer reached "0" I pressed the AutoStar Enter button to start tracking the ISS. However, the handcontroller locked up. At first I thought the Enter button was stuck (which has occasionally happened recently with this five year old Wireless AutoStar II). After fiddling for about a minute with the buttons and realizing that I could not even slew the telescope using the handcontroller, I finally cycled the power on the handcontroller. That unlocked the handcontroller and it was functional again. Unfortunately, I was now over 1 minute behind in tracking. By the time I caught up with the ISS it was near mid-pass near the zenith. Of course, tracking was horrible since the telescope did not tracking on time. I was able to find a few frames on the HD video, 1.3X crop factor, 60 fps, 1/1250sec, ISO 5000, where the ISS flashed through the camera field-of-view. These are certainly not my best captures of the ISS (see the Satellite Photos Album for some better ones) but here they are:


1911 MST: slewed to the waxing gibbous Moon and began imaging it at prime focus + 2X PowerMate:





I then did some lunar observing at 166X and 83X. I had some trouble getting the fine focus to work reliably on the four year old JMI MicroFocus and did some troubleshooting. I was not able to resolve the problem in the dark so will have to work on it during the daytime.

This was a frustrating session in the observatory but it was still nice to be there observing.

Close: Friday, 23 October 2015, 2004 MST
Temperature: 59°F
Session Length: 1h 58m
Conditions: Clear

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