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Two Faint Galaxies, Crab Nebula, Orion Nebula

Posted: 4 January 2019

Monday, 31 December 2018, had clouds, wind, rain, and then snow. Received 0.15" rain before it turned to snow. The snow continued into early Tuesday morning, 1 January 2019, with a total accumulation of 5-1/2" by sunrise.


Tuesday afternoon I went to the observatory to clean the snow off the dome as the forecast called for clear skies that night. However, there was still so much snow around the observatory that I decided to skip that night as I didn't want to track a lot of snow inside the observatory. And as it turned out the sky became mostly cloudy after sunset.

Wednesday, 2 January, dawned with light snow falling, ending mid-morning. The sky cleared about sunset but I not cleared off the remaining snow from the dome or observatory so didn't go out that night. Thursday, 3 January, was clear but cold. Mid-morning I cleared some snow off the pathway to the observatory and on the observatory patio. Unfortunately, the bottom layer was ice. I cleared some snow from the dome but there was ice that I could not remove. I saw some icicles on a bush. This is a Facebook 3D photo (using a "Portrait" photo taken with the iPhone 8 Plus). Mouseover the image and then move the mouse around.

I went back out to the observatory mid-afternoon to remove the ice on the dome. Got most of it.

Open: Thursday, 3 January 2019, 1816 MST
Temperature: 49°F
Session: 1321
Conditions: Clear

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


1823 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Mars, 102X. No details visible.

Prepared the D850 DSLR for astrophotography with the plan to image more galaxies for my Extragalactic Supernova Project. Mounted the D850 at prime focus, SYNCed and focused on the star Fomalhaut, and locked the 12" primary mirror.

1841 MST: High Precision ON. 1843 MST: StarLock ON.

Began imaging the galaxy NGC908, StarLock autoguided, ISO 6400, White Balance 5000K. Due to poor seeing again this night I was able to only get this single 1 minute exposure (instead of the 5 minutes exposure I wanted):


I also tried imaging the galaxy NGC1232, but again was able to only get a 1 minute, StarLock autoguided, ISO 6400, WB 5000K exposure:


As the seeing conditions were poor, and breezes were increasing, I decided to give up on faint galaxy imaging for this session.

So that the session was not a total loss, I imaged M1 (Crab Nebula), StarLock autoguided, 1 minute, ISO 6400, WB 5000K (black-n-white image):


I also imaged M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion), StarLock autoguided, 30 seconds, ISO 3200, White Balance 4000K. The image is centered on the Trapezium stars.


A faint satellite trail (oddly wiggling) is at the upper right.

1938 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed M42 (Orion Nebula), 102X.

1947 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Thursday, 3 January 2019, 1955 MST
Temperature: 42°F
Session Length: 1h 39m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

In December 2018 I created a Facebook 3D photo of the 12" LX600 telescope in the observatory:

That is rather a unique use of the dual cameras on the iPhone.

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