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Zodiacal Light, Winter Milky Way, Galaxies,
Thor's Helmet

Posted: 27 January 2019

Thursday night, 24 January 2019, was partly cloudy. Friday morning, 25 January, dawned clear but clouds began arriving before sunset. Saturday, 26 January, also dawned clear with a clear sky forecast for the night.

On Saturday I had a local contractor come to the observatory to look at the POD Zenith Table (PZT). The PZT surface needs to be refinished; the four coats of varnish I applied when I made the PZT in April 2016 has deteriorated to the point that I need to do something with it. I am now waiting for his proposed solution and quote. Here's a photo of the top surface, with the waning Moon in the sky.


Open: Saturday, 26 January 2019, 1753 MST
Temperature: 69°F
Session: 1329
Conditions: Mostly clear

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


First, I set up the D850 DSLR with the 24-70mm lens on a camera tripod for sky imaging.


1810 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1816 MST: viewed the planet Mars, 102X.

Then began waiting for the end of Astronomical Twilight (1916 MST).

1848 MST: the Zodiacal Light was becoming visible in the western sky.

1900 MST: I moved the camera to the other side of the observatory. 1919 MST: Zodical Light (f/2.8, 15 seconds, ISO 2500, White Balance Auto, FL 24mm):

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1930 MST: It was getting breezy. I moved the camera back to the observatory patio. 1932 MST: took this photo of the Winter Milky Way passing between the constellations of Gemini (left) and Orion (right) with the star Sirius at the bottom right (f/2.8, 15 seconds, ISO 2500, WB 5000K, FL 24mm):


1936 MST: done with sky imaging. Returned to the 12" telescope.

1938 MST: High Precision ON.

Viewed the galaxy NGC1023, 102X. Nice view. Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus, focused on the star Pollux, and locked the primary mirror.

2006 MST: StarLock ON.

Took these images for my Extragalactic Supernova Project, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, WB 5000K.




Seeing and autoguiding began getting worse while imaging the galaxies, which made getting 5 minute exposures challenging.

Slewed to NGC2359 (Thor's Helmet, nebula) and began imaging it, StarLock autoguided, ISO 6400, WB 4000K. The longest exposure I could get was 161 seconds. This is that (cropped) image:


The photo captured a "lens flare" from a bright star outside of the field-of-view, which made the photo even more interesting. I will re-take the image on a future session, hopefully without the lens flare.

As seeing was so bad I ended imaging for this session.

2121 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed NGC2359 (Thor's Helmet), 102X. The helmet shape was obvious.

2133 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 26 January 2019, 2142 MST
Temperature: 48°F
Session Length: 3h 49m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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