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Dusty Sunset; Special Guest; Long Night of Observing

Posted: 13 May 2018

Clouds and strong winds returned on Thursday, 10 May 2018. Saturday, 12 May, was clear but still windy as sunset approached. I opened the observatory that evening as a special guest from the Ventura County Astronomical Society in California was coming for a visit.

Open: Saturday, 12 May 2018, 1859 MST
Temperature: 76°F
Session: 1228
Conditions: Clear, hazy, windy

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


SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV.

1905 MST: Venus was visible to the naked eye.

1907 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the gibbous Venus, 102X.

The strong winds had picked up a lot of dust, which was evident as the Sun set:


1917 MST: sunset.

1920 MST: guest arrived. The wind had calmed down by this time.

We chatted awhile before going to the observatory. Once there I explained about the SkyShed POD observatory and the Meade 12" telescope.

During the night we talked about telescopes, astronomy, and many other topics. We also did some observing. Most objects were viewed at 102X using the Meade 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece. At the beginning of the session the Zodiacal Light was very nice. And at the end of the session the Milky Way was very prominent. Here's what we observed:

M104 (Sombrero Galaxy)
Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons
Omega Centauri (globular cluster)
Centaurus A (galaxy)
M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules)
M92 (globular cluster)
M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)
M101 (galaxy)
Leo Triplet of Galaxies (M65, M66, and NGC3628 Sarah's Galaxy)
M100 (galaxy)
M87 (galaxy)
M4 (globular cluster)
M57 (Ring Nebula)
M56 (globular cluster)
M27 (Dumbbell Nebula)
M20 (Trifid Nebula)
M17 (Swan Nebula)
M8 (Lagoon Nebula)
M22 (globular cluster)
Jupiter (at 102X and 271X)

We also used the Vortex 12x50 binoculars to view Omega Centauri, M4, M13, Jupiter, M57, and M56.

Many times during the night we just enjoyed looking up at the dark night sky. We also saw several Earth-orbiting satellites and meteors. 0050 MST: as the guest was preparing to leave we saw an amazing very bright fast moving meteor pass south to north through the zenith. It was multi-colored and left a short "smoke trail". That was an exciting cap to a fun session for both me and my guest in the observatory!

0110 MST: guest left.

Mars was now rising over the hill to the southeast.

0115 MST: I viewed Saturn, 102X. Four moons were visible.

0122 MST: I then viewed Mars, low and through a tree, 102X. Unfortunately, the view was not good due to the low altitude and tree. No surface details were visible on the planet.

0124 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Sunday, 13 May 2018, 0131 MST
Temperature: 59°F
Session Length: 6h 32m
Conditions: Clear

Thanks to Dennis for visiting and for spending a wonderful night at Cassiopeia Observatory.

On Tuesday, 8 May 2018, the International Dark-Sky Association announced its 100th International Dark Sky Place. IDA has a virtual tour of all 100 places, including my local Oracle State Park.

I had previously reported that the replacement Vello ShutterBoss III Wireless Remote had begun doing random triggering with the D850 DSLR. The problem is under investigation at Vello. They are going to send me another unit to test.

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