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Asteroid Burkhead, iPhone Double Cluster

Posted: 4 December 2018

Thursday, 29 November 2018, was cloudy. Friday, 30 November, began with a thunderstorm (0.33" rain) before dawn and clouds all day with several brief periods of light rain (for a day total of 0.41"). Saturday, 1 December, was cloudy with some rain (0.06"). Sunday, also had some rain (0.02") with some partial clearing and strong wind (35mph gusts) beginning mid-morning. Cloudy skies continued until Monday, 3 December.

Open: Monday, 3 December 2018, 1810 MST
Temperature: 59°F
Session: 1312
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 50mm eyepiece
Focal Reducer

iPhone 8 Plus

1815 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Mars, 102X. Seeing was bad; no surface features visible.

Stepped outside of the observatory and took this photo with the iPhone 8 Plus using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 8448, 1/4sec):


The bright star in the upper righthand corner is Capella in the constellation of Auriga.

Returned to the 12" telescope and SYNCed the AutoStar on the star Algol in preparation of imaging Asteroid (9143) Burkhead. This asteroid is named for one of my astronomy professors at Indiana University, 1966-1970. This photo of Dr. Martin Burkhead was taken when I and some other of his students gave him a copy of Burnham's Celestial Handbook for his birthday in 1967:


The asteroid was at Mag. +16.4 this night. It had been a little brighter on previous nights when I had hoped to image it. Unfortunately, Moon phase and clouds kept me from trying for it until this night.

1831 MST: Stella Wi-Fi Adapter ON.

Used the iOS app SkySafari 6 Pro to GOTO Asteroid Burkhead. Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer, focused, and locked the primary mirror.

1846 MST: StarLock ON, Wi-Fi OFF.

I then began imaging. Unfortunately, seeing was bad and autoguiding was erratic. I was hoping to get two 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 4000K, images separated by one hour to show asteroid movement. This image, which was ended after 167 seconds, shows what I believe is Asteroid (9143) Burkhead:


With the poor autoguiding this night I was not able to get a confirmation image an hour later. I will try again on a future session to get two images showing asteroid movement as confirmation. However, cloudy skies are in the forecast for the next week or so, and then the Moon will be coming back and the asteroid continuing to fade as it gets further away from the Earth. I may have to wait about a year before trying again.

1900 MST: StarLock OFF.

1912 MST: Wi-Fi ON.

Used the iPhone and SkySafari to GOTO Asteroid (3) Juno, but it was too low in the sky for imaging.

1930 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

Then viewed M45 (the Pleiades), 102X and 49X. Next, viewed the Double Cluster (open star clusters), 49X. That was a nice view.

Mounted the iPhone on the 2" 50mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter and began imaging the Double Cluster, afocal 49X, using NightCap Camera. This image was at ISO 4000, 1/3sec:


I also did StarLock autoguided images (1 minute exposure time) but the single 1/3sec image was just as good as the longer iPhone images.

1955 MST: viewed M1 (Crab Nebula), 49X and 102X. Although it was low in the east the view was pretty good of the nebula.

2003 MST: LX600 OFF.

2013 MST: viewed Comet 46P/Wirtanen using the 12x50 binoculars. The coma was very large. I hope to get more images of the comet on upcoming sessions, weather permitting.

Close: Monday, 3 December 2018, 2021 MST
Temperature: 44°F
Session Length: 2h 11m
Conditions: Clear

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