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Hawk; Weather; Neighbor Lights;
iPhone Messier Objects

Posted: 14 April 2018

Clouds and winds returned on Tuesday, 10 April 2018. Wednesday evening, 11 April, the Cooper's Hawk returned for dinner:

Click or tap on image for larger version

Thursday, 12 April, was partly cloudy, very windy, and surprisingly dusty for being at an elevation of 4390'. This iPhone photo taken to the Northwest as sunset approached shows some of the dusty sky with the dust reaching an altitude above my elevation:


The Sun 12 minutes before sunset in a cloud-free sky but through the dust:


Friday, 13 April, was clear but still very windy. I visited a neighbor to the northwest to discuss their recently installed exceedingly bright unshielded "security" floodlights that shine beyond their property line and at the observatory.


The lights are on a motion sensor, but from the frequency the lights turn on it appears that packrats or other small animals trigger the lights. The neighbor did not believe me when I said that the lights were shining beyond their property line. Unfortunately, the neighbor was not very courteous. He cussed at me, and when I tried to hand him some of the IDA brochures on the harmful effects of light pollution along with my card showing my name and phone number, he thrust them back at me. In 2009, I discussed with the same neighbor his previously installed lighting. Although he was not totally receptive to my concern about his lighting back then, he did stop leaving that light on all night long (for which I thanked him at the time). But he never took me up on my offer to visit the observatory. I do plan to submit a request to the County to have this type of lighting made illegal in the next update to the County Outdoor Lighting Code (which may take decades).

As sunset approached Friday evening the wind began decreasing, although the sky was still hazy. I decided to open the observatory.

Open: Friday, 13 April 2018, 1848 MST
Temperature: 74°F
Session: 1220
Conditions: Clear, hazy, breezy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 9mm eyepiece
1.25" 15mm eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece

iPhone 8 Plus

1853 MST: sunset.

1900 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Set up for D850 DSLR video recording of Venus using eyepiece projection with a 1.25" 9mm eyepiece + #21 Orange Filter. This stacked image is from 446 video frames taken with the DX crop mode, 2160p, 30fps, 1/500, ISO 800, White Balance Auto, and converted to grayscale:


Seeing was lousy but the image does show the gibbous phase of the planet Venus.

1917 MST: viewed Venus, 163X + #21 Orange Filter and 102X.

I then began waiting for the sky to get darker. I had originally planned to do some Deep Sky Object imaging with the D850 DSLR but due to the lousy seeing I decided to defer that to a future session. Instead I would do some iPhone Messier Catalog imaging this night.

1932 MST: slewed to M53 (globular cluster). 1934 MST: M53 was now faintly visible against the still bright sky, 102X. Astronomical Twilight would not end until 2018 MST. 1941 MST: viewed M53, 163X. Still faint.

2002 MST: mounted the iPhone 8 Plus on the 1.25" 15mm eyepiece.

2010 MST: StarLock ON. Began imaging using the iOS app NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 1 minute), StarLock autoguided, afocal 163X.

M53 (globular cluster)

2015 MST: the neighbor's "security" lights came on for no apparent legimate reason. This photo was taken from inside the observatory:


Since the neighbor did not believe me when I said his lights were lighting up my land and house I stepped outside of the observatory and took these handheld photos. The left photo shows a tree (middle) and some cactus (middle and lower right corner) being illuminated. Some stars are visible through the trees. The right photo shows the house being illuminated by his lights, along with some stars in the sky.

photo photo

Of course, I expect that the neighbor will never see these photos.

2035 MST: viewed the galaxies M84 and M86, 81X.

Mounted the iPhone on the 2" 30mm eyepiece and began Messier galaxy imaging with NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 1 minute), StarLock autoguided, afocal 81X.

M84 (galaxy)

M86 (galaxy)

M85 (galaxy)

M87 (galaxy)

M88 (galaxy)

M89 (galaxy)

While the images just show a faint fuzzy splotch at the center, they are images of faint galaxies taken with a smartphone.

2102 MST: StarLock OFF.

Viewed the galaxies M89, M88, M87, and M85, 102X.

2112 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Friday, 13 April 2018, 2121 MST
Temperature: 50°F
Session Length: 2h 33m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

The Vello ShutterBoss III Wireless Remote I purchased with my Nikon D850 DSLR in January 2018 developed a malfunction that was driving me nuts. The receiver was randomly and way too frequently triggering the DSLR to take a photo. It would trigger even when not connected to the camera. It has been returned to Vello under warranty. In the meantime I will use the D850 touchscreen to start/stop long exposures at the telescope. The touchscreen is sensitive enough that I doubt I'll enduce any vibrations in the system.

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