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Extragalactic Supernova Project: M65 & M66

Posted: 8 June 2018

Cloudy skies returned on Monday, 4 June 2018. Tuesday, 5 June, had some clouds, as seen in this photo of the near Last Quarter Moon taken at 0853 MST:


While I was outside I took this photo of a lizard:


Cloudy skies continued on Wednesday, 6 June. The sky was mostly clear but hazy on Thursday, 7 June. I attended a meeting of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee that afternoon.

I posted my review of the book "Supernova Search Atlas and Guide" on 6 June. I decided to start a Cassiopeia Observatory Extragalactic Supernova Project using information in this book. Reference (master) images will be posted on my new Extragalactic Supernova Project Astrophotography Album. The book has over 300 target galaxies listed, but I probably will not include that many in my project.

Open: Thursday, 7 June 2018, 1838 MST
Temperature: 86°F
Session: 1246
Conditions: Clear, hazy, breezy

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


1844 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X. A nice minimal gibbous phase was visible.

I then began doing some planning for the Cassiopeia Observatory Extragalactic Supernova Project. I decided on the night's target galaxies: NGC3623 (Messier 65) and NGC3627 (Messier 66). I had previously imaged a few other galaxies whose images will be useful as reference (master) images as they were taken with the same equipment (Meade 12" LX600, Nikon D850 DSLR, prime focus). I hope to acquire additional reference images each session. Once I have made a good start on collecting the reference images, I will begin re-imaging galaxies to check for possible supernova discoveries.

One of the requirements for this project would be repeatable camera frame alignments, with North up and East left. I decided to mark my camera adapters with alignment marks to assist in mounting the camera at the right orientation each session. I mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus. I used the planet Venus as a guide. I slewed Venus in Right Ascension to the left and right in the camera frame. I adjusted the camera orientation until the movement of Venus in RA was precisely along the horizontal framing marks in the camera viewfinder. I then made small scratch marks on the visual back that aligned with the T-Ring camera mounting dot. I repeated this process with the camera at prime focus + focal reducer. These photos show the marks just above the thumbscrew:

photo photo

1926 MST: completed the alignment marking. Removed the camera.

1932 MST: sunset. Calm now.

1939 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X. Three moons were visible.

2009 MST: Kissing Bug #1 terminated.

2018 MST - 2022 MST: watched the Jovian moon Ganymede being eclipsed, 102X.

2030 MST: slewed to the star Denebola and SYNCed the AutoStar. Then viewed the galaxies NGC3623 (Messier 65) and NGC3627 (Messier 66), 102X. Also viewed NGC3628 (Sarah's Galaxy), 102X, but the sky was still a little too bright for a good view.

2045 MST: Kissing Bug #2 terminated.

2048 MST: finally had a good view of NGC3628 (Sarah's Galaxy), 102X.

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus using the alignment mark. Focused on the star Regulus.

2100 MST: Kissing Bug #3 was terminated. This was the last one seen this night.

2105 MST: StarLock ON.

Took the following StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 4000K, images. North is up and East is left in these full-frame reference images for my Extragalactic Supernova Project:

NGC3623 (Messier 65)

NGC3627 (Messier 66)

2125 MST: StarLock OFF. Seeing was not very steady this night so I'm happy the images turned out as good as they did.

2134 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X. The Ganymede eclipse was over. Three moons visible.

2136 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Thursday, 7 June 2018, 2145 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session Length: 3h 07m
Conditions: Clear

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