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D850 Handheld Zodiacal Light,
iPhone M81 & M82 Galaxies

Posted: 6 February 2018

Open: Monday, 5 February 2018, 1818 MST
Temperature: 78°F
Session: 1196
Conditions: Mostly clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
SkyTracker Pro

iPhone 8 Plus

1826 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

I then began waiting for the end of Astronomical Twilight (1924 MST).

1845 MST: polar aligned the iOptron SkyTracker Pro.

1848 MST: viewed M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) with the 12" telescope, 102X and 81X. Sky was still too bright for good viewing; only the nucleus was visible.

1904 MST: the Zodiacal Light was now visible. 1915 MST: clouds were now coming in from the southwest. Decided to start imaging night sky using my new Nikon D850 DSLR.

This handheld D850 photo, f/2.8, 1 second, ISO 25600, White Balance 3570K, FL 24mm, shows the Zodiacal Light:


It was amazing to photograph the Zodiacal Light using a handheld camera.

I did more handheld sky astrophotography, which will appear in my D850 DSLR review (to be posted soon).

I then mounted the D850 DSLR on the SkyTracker Pro and attached the ScopeStuff Red Dot finderscope, Vello extension bar, and Vello ShutterBoss to the D850:


This is a tracked D850 photo of M31 (Andromeda Galaxy, center) and M33 (Triangulum Galaxy, upper left), f.2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 25600, WB 3570K, FL 70mm:


Next, I took some tracked photos of the constellation of Orion for the D850 review. This is one of those photos, f/2.8, 10 seconds, ISO 1600, FL 24mm:


I returned to the 12" telescope and began preparing to image M81 (Bode's Galaxy) and M82 (Cigar Galaxy) using the iPhone 8 Plus. Mounted the iPhone on a 2" 30mm eyepiece. 2023 MST: StarLock ON. Took these iPhone photos, afocal 81X, using the iOS app NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposure):

M81 (Bode's Galaxy)

M82 (Cigar Galaxy)

I was surprised to be able to capture the reddish color in M82.

2033 MST: StarLock OFF. Ended imaging.

I then viewed the galaxies M95 and M96, 102X. They were very low in the eastern sky. I will image them using the iPhone on a future session.

2047 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Monday, 5 February 2018, 2058 MST
Temperature: 57°F
Session Length: 2h 40m
Conditions: Mostly clear

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