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More 12" LX600 Checkouts, Full Moon Imaging

Posted: 23 February 2016

Open: Monday, 22 February 2016, 1810 MST
Temperature: 74°F
Session: 923
Conditions: Mostly clear, hazy/dusty sky, windy

This session continued the checkout of the new Meade 12" LX600. I opened the dome but left the covers on all the optics due to the dusty sky from day long strong winds. 1814 MST: sunset. A few minutes later I took this photo of the western sky shown how dusty the sky was:


1826 MST: powered on the LX600 and updated the ISS TLE for this night's low elevation pass. Actually, I had to add the satellite as there were none in the database. I then turned the StarLock OFF so that it would not interfer with satellite tracking. (I don't know if this is required but I did it anyway.) As this would be the first satellite tracking with the LX600 I decided to not try to image the ISS, but to just observe it in the 24mm UWA eyepiece (102X) to see how well the LX600 tracked. 1835 MST: uncovered the optics, slewed to Sirius, checked the telescope focus, and finderscope alignment. 1852 MST: all was in readiness for the ISS pass to start. It was then that I realized that my eye could not reach the eyepiece on the finderscope (which has a right angle eyepiece) with the telescope pointed near the horizon. The finderscope was just too high up. I will have to rethink the orientation of the finderscope on a future session. Once the ISS pass started initial pointing was slightly off. Since I could not use the finderscope it took a few seconds to get the ISS in the main telescope eyepiece. Tracking was not bad but if I lost the ISS in the eyepiece (which I did once) it was difficult to reacquire without a finderscope to help. After about mid-pass the finderscope eyepiece was reachable so I was able to get more views of the ISS in the 102X eyepiece. Although the ISS was low in the sky for most of the pass, I was able to see some nice views of it and the solar panels. The next ISS pass opportunity is not for awhile, but I will try imaging on the next one.

1911 MST: Full Moon rose over the hill to the east. I began setting up to do more field-of-view (FOV) measurements with the 12" f/8 LX600. On the previous session I measured the actual FOV of all my eyepieces. This night I did actual FOV measurements for the D7200 DSLR at prime focus using various adapters. I even measured the FOV using the off-axis guider (OAG), although I hope to not be using it as the StarLock should provide autoguiding during imaging (will be testing that soon). I will post my FOV measurements spreadsheet once it is updated. I also took photographs of the various adapters for the Equipment page. 2035 MST: finished the FOV measurements.

I then did a GOTO the Moon. The StarLock was still OFF. Unlike on the previous session when the StarLock was ON during a GOTO Moon, this night the Moon was placed near the center of the finderscope. (I still suspect some error in the AutoStar lunar calculations.) Mounted the D7200 DSLR on the telescope using my new Optec Lepus 0.62X Telecompressor Lens (focal reducer) and did some imaging tests using the Full Moon. I will post a review of the Lepus focal reducer after I get some DSO images with it. In the meantime, here is a teaser image of the Full Moon taken with the focal reducer and D7200 DSLR, 1/400sec, ISO 100:


Seeing was not very good during my imaging tests so I decided to not try any star field imaging with the focal reducer this night. The wind was still pretty strong. I did notice that the LX600 and X-Wedge was not affected by the strong wind. When I had used my 8" LX200-ACF on the standard (low end) wedge during even mild breezes, the wind would really affect the telescope. 2114 MST: ended focal reducer tests.

2122 MST: viewed the Full Moon, 102X. A slight terminator was visible. I then turned the StarLock ON and did a GOTO Jupiter. It was placed just outside the 24mm UWA eyepiece FOV. The bright nearby Moon possibly affected the StarLock pointing. The four Galilean Moons were visible, but seeing was bad. As a check on the StarLock, I then did a GOTO M42 (Orion Nebula). Centering in the 102X eyepiece was good.

On my previous report I mentioned that I could not get a Wi-Fi connection to the LX600 RS-232 port. I checked the cables and connectors during the day; all seemed OK. I tried again this night to get a connection but was not successful. More troubleshooting will be required.

The last thing I did this night was to set a custom Park position. I then Parked the telescope and ended the session.

Close: Monday, 22 February 2016, 2151 MST
Temperature: 53°F
Session Length: 3h 41m
Conditions: Clear, windy

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