Cassiopeia Observatory logo

Oracle Observatory 10 Years Ago;
Messier Catalog Galaxies, Jupiter, Jupiter on Dome

Posted: 13 April 2017

Clouds returned on Tuesday, 11 April 2017. I decided to post "then and now" photos of "Oracle Observatory". This was how "Oracle Observatory" looked during a visit on 13 April 2007 with a LXD75-8"SC telescope, tent, and other stuff:


And this is how the same area looks 10 years later in April 2017:


I could not exactly duplicate the view as the house we built in 2008-9 is located where I stood in 2007.

Wednesday, 12 April, was clear, but hazy.

Open: Wednesday, 12 April 2017, 1804 MST
Temperature: 94°F
Session: 1097
Conditions: Clear, hazy, breezy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece

D7200 DSLR
iPhone 6s Plus

Upon opening the observatory I did some maintenance on the telescope. I also SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV.

1826 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF. Slewed to the star Sirius and SYNCed the AutoStar. Sirius was visible to the naked eye well before sunset. 1834 MST: slewed to the star Regulus and SYNCed the AutoStar.

Using SkySafari 5 Pro on the iPhone I then began some preparations for imaging Messier Catalog galaxies this session.

1852 MST: sunset. 1910 MST: the star Regulus was now naked eye visible.

1918 MST: slewed to the galaxy M109, which would be the first imaging target. It was not yet visible due to the bright twilight sky. 1922 MST: Jupiter was now rising over the hill to the east. The breezes had calmed down now. Slewed to the double star Mizar and viewed it, 102X. SYNCed the AutoStar on Mizar. Slewed back to M109. 1944 MST: M109 was now faintly visible, 102X. SYNCed on the galaxy. 1953 MST: slewed to the star Gamma Ursa Major, which would be the focus star. Mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer and focused on the star using the Bahtinov Mask, then locked the primary mirror. Slewed to M109.

2001 MST: StarLock ON. This is M109, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 3570K:


Three other faint galaxies are also visible in the above photo: UGC6923 (at 11 o'clock from M109), UGC6040 (12 o'clock), and UGC6969 (3 o'clock).

This is the galaxy M106, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, WB 3570K, cropped from the full-frame image:


The galaxy NGC4248 is visible at the upper left.

2020 MST: the eastern sky was beginning to brighten from the rising waning gibbous Moon.

This is the galaxy M100, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, WB 3570K:


There are five fainter galaxies visible surrounding M100.

2037 MST: the sky was now too bright for galaxy imaging. StarLock OFF. Unmounted the camera. Viewed M100, 102X, but the sky was too bright.

2045 MST: viewed the planet Jupiter, 102X and 271X. Seeing was not very good as the planet was still somewhat low in the sky. The four Galilean Moons were visible. I then stepped outside of the observatory for this photograph of the planet Jupiter projected onto the observatory dome using the 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece (271X), f/3.5, 30 seconds, ISO 3200, FL 18mm:

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for arrow to Jupiter

Can you see Jupiter on the dome? Mouseover or tap on the photo for help finding it.

2111 MST: returned to the 12" telescope and viewed Jupiter, 271X. Seeing was a little better now. Mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the 9mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter and did some afocal 271X 30 seconds video recordings of Jupiter using the iOS app NightCap Pro. This is a stack of 918 video frames, ISO 200, 1/300sec:


This is how Jupiter appeared live on the Apple Watch:


The two equatorial cloud belts are visible on the Watch.

Resumed Jupiter observing, 271X. The disks of the four moons were visible.

2138 MST: the waning gibbous Moon was now rising over the hill to the east. Began closing up.

Close: Wednesday, 12 April 2017, 2142 MST
Temperature: 64°F
Session Length: 3h 38m
Conditions: Clear

Comments are welcome using Email. Twitter users can use the button below to tweet this report to your followers. Thanks.

Previous report

Cassiopeia Observatory Home Page

Back to Top

Copyright ©2017 Michael L. Weasner /