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Meade EclipseView 114 "First Light";
iPhone Astrophotography: M44 Beehive Cluster

Posted: 20 January 2018

Clouds that had been forecast to arrive on Friday from an approaching storm system actually arrived on Thursday, 18 January 2018. But Friday, 19 January, was clear.

Open: Friday, 19 January 2018, 1809 MST
Temperature: 72°F
Session: 1187
Conditions: Mostly clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
EclipseView 114
1.25" 26mm eyepiece
1.25" 9mm eyepiece
SkyTracker Pro

iPhone 8 Plus

I set up a newly received Meade EclipseView 114 Newtonian telescope on the observatory patio for its "First Light":


This f/4 450mm telescope provided nice views of the crescent Moon and Earthshine using the two supplied eyepieces (17X and 50X). Here is the EclipseView pointing at the Moon (upper left):


Here are two handheld iPhone 8 Plus photos taken through the EclipseView, afocal 17X, using the iOS app NightCap Camera:

Crescent Moon


I did a star test to check the telescope collimation. It was close to being in collimation, but I think I can improve it during a daytime collimation adjustment.

I then viewed M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion) in the EclipseView 114, 17X. The view was good even though the sky was not yet dark.

1840 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the Moon, 102X. Pretty sight with Earthshine.

1850 MST: returned to the EclipseView and viewed M42, 17X. Much nicer now with lots of nebulosity visible. I then pointed the EclipseView at M31 (Andromeda Galaxy). Using 17X the galaxy was visible across the entire eyepiece field-of-view. Its companion galaxies M32 and M110 were also visible. Next, viewed the Double Cluster (open star clusters), 17X. Very nice sight. Viewed M45 (the Pleiades, open star cluster), 17X. Another pretty sight in the EclipseView 114. For a challenging object I pointed the telescope at the left-most star in Orion's belt (Alnitak). Using 17X and by placing Alnitak just outside of the eyepiece field-of-view I was able to see the faint Flame Nebula (NGC2024). That was impressive. The last object viewed with the EclipseView was M44 (the Praesepe, Beehive Cluster, open star cluster) low in the eastern sky, 17X.

1930 MST: began setting up the SkyTracker Pro on the observatory patio in preparation for imaging M44 (Beehive Cluster) using the iPhone 8 Plus. I polar aligned the SkyTracker Pro and then began waiting for M44 to rise higher in the sky and the Moon to get lower.

2006 MST: attached an 8X telephoto lens to the iPhone and mounted the iPhone on the SkyTracker Pro. This photo shows both the 12" telescope and the iPhone pointing at M44:


Took this iPhone photo, 8X, using NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 3200, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposure):

M44 (the Praesepe, Beehive Cluster)

2042 MST: returned to the 12" telescope and viewed the Eskimo Nebula (NGC2392), 102X. Then viewed the Flame Nebula (NGC2024), 102X. Lastly, viewed M42 (Orion Nebula), 102X.

2051 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Friday, 19 January 2018, 2100 MST
Temperature: 56°F
Session Length: 2h 51m
Conditions: Clear

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