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D850 DSLR Astrophotography Tests;
iPhone Messier Open Clusters

Posted: 4 February 2018

Thursday morning, 1 February 2018, just before I headed out to the observatory to do some stuff, this Cooper's Hawk stopped by one of our bird baths:

Click or tap on image for larger version

Thursday, was cloudy. Friday, 2 February, was also cloudy. But something good happened on Friday: my Nikon D850 DSLR full-frame camera arrived. I will begin using it for general and astrophotography. I intend to write up a review once I have done some images with it.

The sky cleared on Saturday, 3 February.

Open: Saturday, 3 February 2018, 1805 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session: 1194
Conditions: Mostly clear

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

iPhone 8 Plus

I first SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals.

1813 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Slewed to the planet Uranus and began waiting for the sky to darken. 1826 MST: viewed Uranus, 102X and then 271X. Mounted the iPhone for afocal 271X imaging of Uranus. Unfortunately, seeing was not good enough for good imaging.

1908 MST: after giving up on imaging Uranus, viewed M42 (Great Nebula in Orion), 81X.

I set up for some initial astrophotography tests with the D850 DSLR. I mounted the D850 on a photographic tripod (no tracking):


I will document the results on my upcoming review of the D850, but here is a teaser of the constellation of Orion, f/2.8, 5 seconds, ISO 102400, White Balance 3570K, FL 70mm:


In the full size image the Flame and Horsehead nebulae are easily seen.

1942 MST: returned to the 12" telescope. Viewed M46 (open star cluster), 81X. The planetary nebula NGC2438 was also visible. Then viewed the open clusters M47, M48, and M67. Later I viewed M93 (open cluster), 81X.

Returned to M46, SYNCed, and mounted the iPhone 8 Plus using the Levenhuk adapter to begin imaging these Messier open star clusters. 1957 MST: StarLock ON. The following StarLock autoguided images were taken with the iOS app NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposure).

M46 and NGC2438





2023 MST: StarLock OFF. Ended imaging.

Viewed M42 (Orion Nebula), 81X and 102X.

2033 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 3 February 2018, 2043 MST
Temperature: 55°F
Session Length: 2h 38m
Conditions: Mostly clear

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