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Mercury's Namesake,
Crescent Moon, M74 Galaxy

Posted: 11 November 2018

Open: Saturday, 10 November 2018, 1719 MST
Temperature: 79°F
Session: 1302
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece

iPhone 8 Plus

1725 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1725 MST: sunset.

1730 MST: viewed the planet Mercury, very low in the southwestern sky and behind a tree, 102X. I had been wanting to observe the planet Mercury this past week but this was the first opportunity to do so. Our cat Mercury was named for the planet. We got him as a kitten in June 2000 and as we were driving him home we saw the planet Mercury in the western sky after sunset. We decided to name him Mercury. On Saturday, 3 November 2018, we had to say goodbye to Mercury due to his rapidly deteriorating health. He was 18-1/2 years old. Click to see his Memorial Page. We miss him.

I took this handheld iPhone 8 Plus afocal 102X photo of the planet Mercury using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 22, 1/400sec). The near quarter phase of the planet is visible:


1745 MST: viewed the crescent Moon, 102X and 81X. Took this handheld iPhone afocal 81X photo with NightCap Camera (ISO 22, 1/90sec):


Then viewed Saturn, 81X. Pretty view.

1753 MST: returned to the Moon. Earthshine was becoming visible. 1807 MST: took this handheld iPhone afocal 81X photo of Earthshine with NightCap Camera (ISO 800, 1/8sec):


Did some lunar observing, 271X. Crater Petavius looked especially nice. Took this handheld iPhone afocal 271X photo with NightCap Camera (ISO 25, 1/30sec):


Next, I took some photos of the sky using the D850 DSLR and 70-300mm lens:

Saturn (upper left) and Moon with Earthshine (f/4.8, 1/10sec, ISO 3200, FL 145mm, cropped)

Moon with Earthshine (f/5.6, 1/10sec, ISO 5000, FL 300mm, cropped)

Constellation of Sagittarius, Saturn, & Moon (f/4.5, 1/4sec, ISO 5000, FL 70mm)

I then used 12x50 binoculars to view the Moon, Saturn, and M22 (globular cluster; near Saturn).

1830 MST: viewed M22 (globular cluster), 102X.

1835 MST: viewed Mars, 102X and 271X. The South Polar Cap and a faint dark area were visible at 271X.

1849 MST: High Precision ON. Slewed to M74 (galaxy). 1853 MST: StarLock ON. I wanted to do a StarLock autoguiding check. However, the StarLock could not find a guidestar. 1855 MST: StarLock OFF. I decided I would try imaging NGC628 (M74) anyway for my Extragalactic Supernova Project. I would slew the telescope around in the hopes of finding a good guidestar for the StarLock. Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus of the 12" telescope, focused, and locked the mirror. Slewed to NGC628. I then discovered that I had forgotten to remove the StarLock aperture covers when I first tried my tests. Oops! I removed the covers.

1915 MST: StarLock ON.

I then began taking images of NGC628 (M74, galaxy). The StarLock frequently lost lock on its guidestar. I slewed the telescope around the field, but that didn't help. I could not get any useful exposures longer than 1 minute, and many were much shorter. Normally I prefer 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 5000K exposures for my galaxy images, but this night for NGC628 I decided I would try to get some usable 1 minute exposures and then stack and align them in the Mac app Observatory. From the 41 images I took of NGC628 I had 8 1 minute exposures that were usable. This is the stack of those images:


2001 MST: StarLock OFF.

Removed the camera. 2013 MST: viewed the Pleiades (M45), 102X.

2018 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 10 November 2018, 2026 MST
Temperature: 56°F
Session Length: 3h 07m
Conditions: Clear

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