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ETX-105 + LXD55 tests;
Critter visitor, HST with iPhone

Posted: 9 July 2016

The replacement Meade 12" LX600 arrived in Tucson on Thursday, 7 July 2016. Now waiting for it to be delivered to me. I have decided to defer setting it up in the observatory until after the replacement carpet is installed on the observatory pad, which is scheduled for Monday, 18 July. On Friday, 8 July, I received a set of mounting rings and camera adapter from OPT for use with the LXD55 mount. I will post a review as soon as possible. During the day I mounted the ETX-105 OTA (optical tube assembly) on the LXD55. Monsoon season cumulus clouds began appearing Friday morning, but the forecast for Friday night was for clear skies. As sunset approached the sky began clearing.

Open: Friday, 8 July 2016, 1857 MST
Temperature: 99°F
Session: 994
Conditions: Mostly clear

Equipment Used:
ETX-105 + LXD55 GEM
1.25" 26mm eyepiece
1.25" 3X TeleXtender

D7200 DSLR
iPhone 6s Plus

The main purpose of this session was to test how well the ETX-105 telescope worked on the LXD55 German Equatorial Mount (GEM) using the new mounting rings. I also wanted to photograph the conjunction of the crescent Moon and Jupiter. There would also be a nice pass of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) that I hoped to photograph. Here is the setup for the night's activities:


While I was setting up the equipment this friendly visitor arrived. Here are some photos of this cute tarantula:




1935 MST: Jupiter was visible to the naked eye near the Moon. 1937 MST: sunset. 2002 MST: took this photo of the western sky with Jupiter near the Moon, f/3.8, 1/8sec, ISO 400, FL 24mm:

Click or tap on image for a closer view

1955 MST: began preparing for the HST pass. Mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the camera tripod using the SteadyPix adapter. Used the iOS app NightCap Pro (ISS mode, ISO 4000, 1/3sec) for this image of the HST pass:


The solid trail is the Hubble Space Telescope moving right (west) to the left (east). The dotted trails are two airplanes. The planets Saturn and Mars are above the HST trail and the star Antares in the constellation of Scorpius is below the HST trail.

2036 MST: began using the ETX-105 on the LXD55. First I aligned the finderscope using the star Polaris. I then powered on the LXD55 mount and did an Easy Align, which worked, as expected. Did a GOTO the Moon and viewed the Moon using the 26mm eyepiece (57X). I added my old Shutan Wide-Field Adapter (WFA; received in 1998) at the rear port of the ETX-105 and used it for a less magnified view of the Moon using a 26mm eyepiece. I plan to leave this accessory on the ETX-105. Took this handheld iPhone afocal photo through the WFA:


Then viewed Jupiter, 57X and 170X. The four Galilean Moons were visible. Unfortunately, seeing was not very good this night. Next, viewed Mars, 170X; some surface details visible. I quickly realized that I will need to extend the LXD55 tripod legs to raise the ETX to a more comfortable viewing position on the next session. Viewed Saturn, 170X; nice view of Cassini Division and the moon Titan.

Did a GOTO the star Vega and SYNCed the AutoStar. Then did a GOTO M57 (Ring Nebula) and viewed it, 57X. Good view of the planetary nebula. The last object viewed this night was M17 (Swan Nebula), 57X. Pretty.

2120 MST: LXD55 OFF. The night's tests of the ETX-105 on the LXD55 GEM were successful. I plan to do more tests over the next few nights.

Began closing. As I was doing that I saw a Kissing Bug in the observatory, but it got away. A few minutes later two more Kissing Bugs were seen in the observatory and terminated.

Close: Friday, 8 July 2016, 2146 MST
Temperature: 80°F
Session Length: 2h 49m
Conditions: Mostly clear

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