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Mountain Vista School 4th Graders visit Cassiopeia Observatory

Posted: 24 January 2018

Saturday, 20 January 2018, a winter storm arrived with cloudy skies, dropping temperature, and some light rain in the afternoon. Received 0.12" rain before it turned to snow a little before 1700 MST. The snow didn't stick much (too warm) and it stopped snowing about 30 minutes after it started. Did get a total of 0.22" precipitation that day. Sunday, 21 January, was clear, but with a long day of activities planned for Monday, 22 January, I skipped opening the observatory Sunday night.

Monday, 22 January, was mostly cloudy. I had planned to host several 4th grade students from Mountain Vista School in Oracle at my observatory that night. With a decision needed by mid-afternoon (before class let out for the day), I canceled that night's visit due to the clouds just to be safe. And wouldn't you know it, the sky began clearing as sunset approached. The sky was clear on Tuesday, 23 January, so some students were able to come to the observatory that night.

Open: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 1715 MST
Temperature: 67°F
Session: 1188
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
EclipseView 114
1.25" 26mm eyepiece

iPhone 8 Plus

I opened the observatory early to prepare for the arrival of the visitors from Mountain Vista School. First, I SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals. I then set up some chairs and tables on the observatory patio.

1730 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the Moon, 102X.

One of the school's two newly donated (thanks Meade!) EclipseView 114 telescopes was set up and used to view the Moon at a magnification of 17X. I took this handheld afocal 17X photograph of the Moon in the EclipseView telescope using an iPhone 8 Plus with the iOS app NightCap Camera:


The students began arriving about 1800 MST. They were able to view the Moon using the EclipseView 114 telescope (magnification 17X) on the observatory patio and the 12" telescope (magnification 271X) in the observatory. The last object viewed was the Great Nebula in Orion (also known as "M42") using the 12" telescope (magnification 102X). During the evening, the students made drawings and identified many constellations.

I took this group photo:


Here are two more photographs of action in the observatory:

Photos courtesy of Julie Formo, Mountain Vista School.

1930 MST: the last visitor left.

I mounted the iPhone on the 9mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter and took the following afocal 271X photos using NightCap Camera to show the Moon as the students saw it through the 12" telescope:


I then slewed the telescope to M42 and took this afocal 81X iPhone photo of the Great Nebula in Orion using NightCap Camera (StarLock autoguided, ISO 2000, 1 minute exposure) to show what the students saw in the 12" telescope:


With the temperature dropping and the breezes increasing, I began closing up the observatory.

2017 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 2030 MST
Temperature: 46°F
Session Length: 3h 15m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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