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iPhone Planets; Asteroid (1988) Delores,
Cassiopeia Open Star Clusters; Critters

Posted: 9 September 2018

Open: Saturday, 8 September 2018, 1824 MST
Temperature: 83°F
Session: 1273
Conditions: Mostly clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 15mm eyepiece
2" 2X Powermate
Focal Reducer

iPhone 8 Plus

1832 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X and 325X.

Mounted the iPhone 8 Plus for afocal 325X imaging of Venus. This is a stack of 2468 slo-mo (240fps) video frames:


1841 MST: sunset.

1845 MST: viewed Jupiter, 325X. Ganymede and Io were visible. Io's shadow was in transit across the planet's disk.

Stack of 2468 slo-mo (240fps) iPhone video frames, afocal 325X:


1851 MST: clouds in the east were increasing. Viewed Saturn, 325X.

Stack of 2487 slo-mo (240fps) iPhone video frames, afocal 325X:


1859 MST: slewed to Mars, but then clouds hide the planet. The clouds were moving towards the south so I hoped they would eventually move away.

1902 MST: was able to view Mars, 325X. The South Polar Cap was bright white. However, seeing was not good due to the clouds nearby. This D850 DSLR photo shows Mars above the clouds:


The sky was clearer to the southwest where Jupiter (near top) and Venus (near tree) were shining, as seen in this D850 photo:


1927 MST: got a pretty good view of Mars.

This is a stack of 465 iPhone video frames (30fps) taken with NightCap Camera (ISO 25, 1/59sec), afocal 325X, showing the bright South Polar Cap and a dark surface area:


1932 MST: ended iPhone imaging. Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer. Took this StarLock autoguided, 2 minutes, ISO 3200, White Balance 5000K, image of NGC659, open star cluster in the constellation of Cassiopeia:


Using SkySafari 6 Pro on the iPhone to control the telescope via Wi-Fi, slewed to Asteroid (1988) Delores, Mag + 16.3. Took two images of Asteroid Delores, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, WB 5000K, separated by one hour. Seeing was not ideal and autoguiding was not great at times. Fortunately, I was able to capture Asteroid Delores:


I had hoped to image Asteroid Delores when it was almost a full Magnitude brighter some weeks ago, but travel, the Moon, and cloudy nights prevented imaging. Asteroid Delores is named for Dee Owings, who was the Program Director of the Indiana University Asteroid Program. I worked for her 1966-70 while I was an undergraduate Astrophysics student. This is a photo of some of the file cabinets in Dee's office taken in 1973 during a visit there:


I visited Dee in 2000 after she had retired:


Dee passed away several years ago. I learned a lot from working for Dee as a student and I am thrilled to have been able to photograph her asteroid.

I had hoped to image another faint asteroid this session but Mars was in the same field-of-view and blew out the image. I will reschedule that asteroid, possibly for sometime next year when it is further from Mars and brighter.

As I was preparing to image another open star cluster in Cassiopeia I saw this praying mantis in the observatory:


This is NGC7789 (open cluster), StarLock autoguided, 2 minutes, ISO 3200, WB 5000K:


2150 MST: ended imaging.

I heard some scratching on the outside of the dome. When I stepped outside of the observatory I saw this packrat beneath the PZT:


Unfortunately, the iPhone was not able to lock focus in the dark but you can still see the critter. After I took the photo the packrat ran across the top of the PZT towards the open side of the dome. I hope he didn't jump down inside the observatory. I looked for him in the bays but did not see him.

I then viewed NGC7789 (open cluster), 102X, and then Mars, 102X.

2211 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 8 September 2018, 2226 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session Length: 4h 02m
Conditions: Clear

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