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Crescent Moon on Observatory Dome

Posted: 5 November 2016

After the overnight thunderstorms the cloudy skies continued on Thursday, 3 November 2016, with several passing thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Shortly after sunset my webcam captured this photo of lightning in the west:


Received 0.2" rain on Thursday. That evening I attended a meeting of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee. Friday, 4 November, dawned partly cloudy and was mostly clear by sunset.

Open: Friday, 4 November 2016, 1810 MST
Temperature: 72°F
Session: 1035
Conditions: Mostly clear, high humidity

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
Wireless AutoStar II handset
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece

iPhone 6s Plus
D7200 DSLR

1815 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1824 MST: viewed Saturn and its moon Titan, 102X. The planet was low in the southwestern sky so the view was not very good.

Then viewed Venus, followed by Mars, 102X.

Next, viewed the crescent Moon, 102X. Earthshine was nicely visible in the eyepiece.

Switched to a 2" 30mm eyepiece (81X) and began setting up to image the Moon using the iPhone 6s Plus with the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. Used the Camera app with the earbuds/mic cord as a remote shutter release for this image:


1843 MST: GC Wi-Fi Adapter ON. Did some tests of a new beta release of the iOS app ScopeBoss. 1910 MST: tests completed. Wi-Fi Adapter OFF.

1923 MST: began preparing to photograph the crescent Moon projected on the observatory dome. 1931 MST: took this D7200 DSLR photo, f/3.5, 30 seconds, ISO 1600, 8mm fisheye lens, showing the Moon on the dome, the 12" LX600 telescope, and some stars (including the Pleiades) in the eastern sky:

Click or tap on image for larger version

I moved the camera inside the observatory for this photo of me, the Moon on the dome, the telescope, and some stars, f/3.5, 30 seconds, ISO 1600, 8mm fisheye lens:


1946 MST: ended photography.

1958 MST: using M45 (the Pleiades) did some focus lock tests using the Meade suggested add-on locking bolt:


I had stopped using the bolt a few months ago as I could not get consistent locking. After some experimentation this night I think I found a solution. After focusing on a star I turn the focus knob CCW to put the star just slightly out-of-focus. I then tighten the bolt and nut snugly against the telescope back plate to bring the star back in focus. That seemed to keep the mirror locked in the in-focus position when slewing to different objects. Will have to try the technique on my next imaging session to confirm this technique is reliable.

2030 MST: Wi-Fi Adapter ON. Did some more ScopeBoss tests for the developer.

Once the tests were completed, I decided to end the session due to the high humidity. My logbook pages were damp. 2041 MST: Wi-Fi OFF, LX600 OFF.

Close: Friday, 4 November 2016, 2050 MST
Temperature: 57°F
Session Length: 2h 40m
Conditions: Clear, 66% humidity

In case you haven't heard, OPT (Oceanside Photo & Telescope) has a new owner. See this short video of Jimmy Nguyen of Meade Instruments interviewing Dustin and Ginny Gibson, the new owners.

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