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iPhone NightCap Omega Centauri, Milky Way;
DSLR Milky Way, NGC6822 Galaxy

Posted: 17 June 2017

Friday morning, 16 June 2017, I went to the observatory and replaced the foam on the three dome brackets. The foam that I installed over 7 years ago was finally disintegrating. The foam protects my head when I bang into one of the brackets.


Open: Friday, 16 June 2017, 1903 MST
Temperature: 99°F
Session: 1125
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 15mm eyepiece
SkyTracker Pro
Focal Reducer

iPhone 6s Plus
D7200 DSLR

Set up the iOptron SkyTracker Pro to the north of the observatory for imaging the Milky Way later:


1918 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1921 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X and 163X. Three moons and the Great Red Spot were visible.

Grabbed this handheld iPhone 6s Plus afocal 163X photo using the iOS Camera app that approximated the view seen in the eyepiece:


1937 MST: sunset. All four Galilean Moons were now visible.

Next, I moved the dome OFF onto the PZT so that I could do a StarLock Drift Alignment after the end of astronomical twilight.

1952 MST: the Great Red Spot on Jupiter was rotating out of view at the limb.

This is a handheld iPhone afocal 163X photo of the Galilean Moons (Jupiter is overexposed) taken with the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 2000, 1/8sec):


2008 MST: the first of ten Kissing Bugs seen in the observatory this night was terminated. All were terminated, with the last one at about 2315 MST.

2030 MST: last look at Jupiter, 163X.

Viewed Omega Centauri (globular cluster), 163X, very low in the southern sky. It was faintly visible against the twilight sky. Mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the 15mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter. 2055 MST: this is an afocal 163X image of Omega Centauri taken with NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposure), StarLock autoguided:


This is how Omega Centauri appeared live on the Apple Watch:


2107 MST: began the StarLock automated Drift Alignment. I hadn't done one in a long time and I thought it would be good to check the mount alignment. After a few minutes the StarLock reported that no mount adjustments were needed. I then did an AutoStar One Star Alignment. 2132 MST: completed alignments. Moved dome from the PZT.

Viewed Saturn, 163X. Took this handheld iPhone afocal 163X photo using NightCap Camera (ISO 400, 1/50sec):


2155 MST: viewed M21 and M18 (open star clusters), 102X. SYNCed the AutoStar on Antares and did a tour of Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) in the constellation of Scorpius, 102X: M80 (globular cluster), M4 (globular cluster), NGC6124 (open cluster), NGC6231 (open cluster), NGC6302 (Bug Nebula, planetary nebula), M6 (Butterfly Cluster, open cluster), and M7 (open cluster). 2209 MST: ended tour.

2215 MST: went to the SkyTracker Pro and checked the polar alignment. It was good, but I would check again after mounting the camera.

Returned to the 12" telescope and viewed M57 (Ring Nebula), 102X.

2235 MST: began preparing the SkyTracker Pro for imaging. Mounted the D7200 DSLR. 2305 MST: this is a 1X sidereal tracking rate, f/3.5, 1 minute, ISO 5000, White Balance 3570K, FL 18mm photograph of the Milky Way and Cassiopeia Observatory:


Removed the DSLR and mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the SkyTracker Pro using the Levenhuk adapter. This photograph with a clip-on wide angle lens was taken using the app NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8000, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposure), using a 1X sidereal tracking rate:


The Milky Way shows in the photograph taken with a smartphone. Amazing.

2338 MST: ended SkyTracker Pro imaging.

Returned to the 12" telescope and viewed NGC6822 (Barnard's Galaxy), 102X. The irregular diffuse galaxy was faintly visible. I then mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer, focused on the star Altair, and locked the primary mirror. I did several images of NGC6822 but StarLock autoguiding was not always good due to poor seeing. I was finally able to get this StarLock autoguided, 3 minutes, ISO 6400, WB 3570K, cropped image of NGC6822:


0009 MST: done imaging.

0020 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 17 June 2017, 0030 MST
Temperature: 72°F
Session Length: 5h 27m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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