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DSO Observing with 8" LX200-ACF;
Observatory Upgrade News

Posted: 5 February 2016

Clouds and wind arrived Thursday morning, 4 February 2016. The "marine grade" plywood for the POD Zenith Table (PZT) was delivered:


I hope to start constructing the PZT late next week.

Thursday night I attended the monthly meeting of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee. Following the meeting I took a SQM reading at Oracle State Park. After returning home I opened Cassiopeia Observatory for a brief session since the sky was clear.

Open: Thursday, 4 February 2016, 2026 MST
Temperature: 41°F
Session: 916
Conditions: Clear, some breezes

2033 MST: viewed M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), 83X. Some spiral arms structure observed. Companion galaxies M32 and M110 also observed.

Slewed to the star Alnitak (in Orion's Belt) and SYNCed the AutoStar. Then viewed NGC2024 (Flame Nebula), 83X. Good details in the nebula were visible once n earby Alnitak was moved out of the field-of-view (FOV).

Next, slewed to IC434 (Horsehead Nebula) and began trying to see it at 83X. Some nebulosity and darker areas were visible, but I could not quite convince myself I could see the "horse head". Switched to a 1.25" 40mm eyepiece (50X); nebulosity was brighter, but still couldn't convince myself that the Horsehead was seen. Added a Hydrogen-Beta filter and finally knew I was seeing the Horsehead Nebula with the 8" telescope from my dark sky site. It will be interesting to see how much easier seeing the Horsehead Nebula becomes once I have the 12" telescope.

Viewed M42 (Orion Nebula), 83X. Switched to the OPT 2" 50mm eyepiece (40X) and viewed M42; impressive at this low magnification with lots of nebulosity visible.

Slewed back to M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and viewed it at 40X. Spiral structure and dark lanes easily seen. M32 and M110 were at the edge of the FOV. This was a lovely view of M31 and its companions.

Using the iOS app Observer Pro on my iPhone 6s Plus I checked for some Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) that would be visible and using 50X I viewed several. First was M33 (Triangulum Galaxy); spiral structure easily visible, making for a nice view at low magnification. Then viewed NGC891 (galaxy), M74 (galaxy), NGC1788 (nebula), NGC2264 (Christmas Tree Cluster and Cone Nebula), and lastly NGC2403 (galaxy).

I began closing up for the night. It was a short but very enjoyable session with the soon-to-be-replaced 8" LX200-ACF.

Close: Thursday, 4 February 2016, 2134 MST
Temperature: 39°F
Session Length: 1h 08m
Conditions: Clear, some breezes

Observatory Upgrade news: Cassiopeia Observatory will be out-of-service for a short period of time beginning Sunday, 7 February. The Meade 8" LX200-ACF telescope, wedge, tripod, and accessories specific to the 8" telescope will be removed, cleaned, and boxed. I will take it all to Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT) when I go there on Tuesday, 9 February. I hope to return home with the Meade 12" LX600 and some other stuff. The EXCITEMENT builds!!!

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