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iPhone imaging: Occultation of Aldebaran

Posted: 20 January 2016

Monday, 18 January 2016, was cloudy. Tuesday, 19 January, started out mostly cloudy, but had some clearing late afternoon. I decided to try for the occultation of Aldebaran by the waxing gibbous Moon. I used SkySafari 5 Pro to determine the precise times for disappearance and reappearance at Cassiopeia Observatory.

Open: Tuesday, 19 January 2016, 1749 MST
Temperature: 63°F
Session: 909
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

1755 MST: viewed Aldebaran and the waxing gibbous Moon through some thin clouds, 83X. SYNCed the AutoStar on Aldebaran. Mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the 8" LX200-ACF using the SteadyPix afocal adapter for afocal 77X slo-mo (240 fps) video recording. I began recording a few minutes before the predicted time of the disappearance behind the dark limb of the Moon as seen through thin clouds and ended the recording once Aldebaran disappeared. Here are pre and post disappearance frames from the video:



While the telescope was tracking Aldebaran the cloud cover became much thicker. A colorful ring was visible around the Moon, as seen in this handheld D7200 DSLR photo, f/5, 1/10sec, ISO 2000, FL 60mm, taken at 1829 MST:


And Orion was partially visible between a tree and the Moon, as seen in this handheld photo at 1835 MST, f/3.5, 1/2sec, ISO 6400, FL 18mm:


1852 MST: the clouds were thick enough at times to nearly hide the Moon.

As the time for reappearance approached I began slo-mo video recording. The Moon was invisible for several minutes leading up to the reappearance of Aldebaran, but the clouds in front of the Moon thinned out some as Aldebaran reappeared, as seen in these two frames from the iPhone slo-mo video, pre and post reappearance:



Aldebaran is faintly visible at the center of the reappearance frame.

Videos of the occultation (click the thumbnails):

Disappearance (2 seconds, 1 MB)
Click or tap on image to view video

Reappearance (23 seconds, 8 MB)
Click or tap on image to view video

After the occultation ended I began closing up the observatory due to the clouds.

Close: Tuesday, 19 January 2016, 1934 MST
Temperature: 49°F
Session Length: 1h 45m
Conditions: Overcast

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