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iPhone 6s Plus Imaging: M17, Sky, Neptune, Uranus

Posted: 1 November 2015

After last night's telescope electronics glitch that locked up the mount while I was imaging NEO asteroid 2015 TB145, I was worried that something serious could have happened. Saturday morning, 31 October 2015, I went out to the observatory and powered on the telescope. It came on fine and seemed to be OK. Whew! Perhaps it really was just the high humidity that caused the glitch. Here I am returning from the observatory, as captured by my webcam:


Open: Saturday, 31 October 2015, 1907 MST
Temperature: 61°F
Session: 873
Conditions: Clear

As a result of the electronics glitch on the previous session, I needed to redo the AutoStar One Star Alignment. So did that first. Then slewed the 8" LX200-ACF to M17 (Swan Nebula), low in the southwest. Using NightCap Pro on the iPhone 6s Plus, took this afocal 77X image (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/3sec, 30 seconds):


I then mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the GorillaPod (which I briefly discussed on yesterday's report) and used NightCap Pro (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/3sec, 1 minute) for this photo of Sagittarius (mostly behind the tree) and a hint of the Milky Way:


This iPhone 6s Plus photo of the constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus was taken with NightCap Pro (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/3sec, 30 seconds) using the GorillaPod:


Just for grins, I used my D7200 DSLR for this handheld, f/3.5, 1/2sec, ISO 5000, FL 18mm, photo of the constellation of Cassiopeia (center):


2000 MST: took sky quality readings using a Unihedron SQM-L meter and the Dark Sky Meter iOS app to compare results with the iPhone 6s Plus. The SQM showed 20.94; DSM showed 18.93. That's quite a difference. The iPhone 5s generally yielded measurements closer to the SQM values. I reported the results to the DSM developer.

Slewed the 8" to Neptune and began setting up for iPhone 6s Plus afocal 222X imaging. I tried to do a video recording with the iOS Camera app but Neptune was too faint. However, it was captured with photo mode, as seen here cropped from the full-frame image:


Slewed to Uranus, which was bright enough for a 60 fps video recording with the Camera app. This is a stack of 1844 frames (30 seconds of video) using Keith's Image Stacker:


I then used NightCap Pro to view Uranus. It even appeared on the Apple Watch, as seen in this Live View captured on the Watch:


I decided to close up for the night as I was still tired from the long previous session of imaging the NEO asteroid 2015 TB145 and from a long day of activities after only a little sleep.

Close: Saturday, 31 October 2015, 2103 MST
Temperature: 53°F
Session Length: 1h 56m
Conditions: Clear

I plan to post my review of the Orion SteadyPix Universal Smartphone Telescope Photo Mount and an update of my NightCap Pro review later today.

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