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Galaxy Imaging; LXD55 GEM Accessory Tests

Posted: 24 May 2019

After being partly cloudy during the day on Tuesday, 14 May 2019, the sky cleared later that night. Unfortunately, I was not able to open the observatory due to an early morning commitment on Wednesday, 15 May. Cloudy skies returned during the day on Wednesday. The sky cleared on Thursday, 16 May, but clouds returned as sunset approached and with strong winds I did not open the observatory that night. Clouds and wind continued Friday night, 17 May. The sky was clear at sunrise on Saturday, 18 May, but began clouding up mid-day. I attended a star party at Oracle State Park that evening under partly cloudy skies. The sky was overcast with strong winds on Sunday, 19 May. Had an unforecasted thundershower shortly after sunrise Monday morning, 20 May, followed by brief rainshowers during the day, totalling 0.18" rain. Tuesday, 21 May, dawned clear but clouds began arriving mid-morning and strong winds developed mid-afternoon. Wednesday, 22 May, was cloudy and windy. Had a surprise rainshower (0.05") before sunrise on Thursday, 23 May. Late afternoon the sky became mostly clear and the winds calmed down.

Open: Thursday, 23 May 2019, 1836 MST
Temperature: 80°F
Session: 1352
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 26mm eyepiece
1.25" Wide Field Adapter
1.25" 12mm eyepiece


I set up my ETX-105 telescope mounted on the LXD55 GEM on the observatory patio. It would be used for some new product testing later in the session.


I then SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals.

1857 MST: began relaxing on the observatory patio bench. 1924 MST: sunset. Watched the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Florida on my iPhone.

1941 MST: back in the observatory.

1943 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Checked the position of the galaxies I planned to image this session. All were in good locations. Prepared the D850 DSLR for prime focus imaging. Slewed to the star Regulus and SYNCed the AutoStar.

2010 MST: did an approximate polar alignment on the LXD55 GEM.

2029 MST: got my first look at the Omega Centauri globular cluster this season, Vortex 12x50 binoculars. Also viewed M13 (the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), 12x50 binoculars. Omega Centauri was much larger and more impressive in the binoculars.

2035 MST: mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus of the 12" telescope, focused on the star Regulus, and locked the 12" primary mirror using the ScopeStuff Mirror Lock.

2040 MST: High Precision ON.

Slewed to NGC3359 (galaxy), which would be my first imaging target of the night for my Extragalactic Supernova Project.

2043 MST: StarLock ON.

This image of NGC3359 is a StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 5000K, exposure:


Slewed to NGC3351 (galaxy) and began trying to get a good StarLock autoguided image of it. Unfortunately seeing had deteriorated and I was only able to get a good 1 minute, ISO 6400, WB 5000K exposure. I also tried imaging NGC3344 (galaxy) but again, seeing prevented any exposure longer than 1 minute. Here are those images:



Gave up galaxy imaging this session. I will try longer exposures on the next session.

2128 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed NGC3344 (galaxy), 102X. Viewed Omega Centauri globular cluster, 102X. Very nice view.

2141 MST: LX600 OFF.

Prepared the D850 DSLR for sky imaging. Attached the Vello Extendá Plus Wi-Fi Camera Controller to the D850.

2147 MST: LXD55 ON.

Viewed M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), 36X.

Did some tests of the GEM accessory for my upcoming review.

2231 MST: ended tests.

Viewed Jupiter, low in the southeastern sky, 36X and 123X. The four Galilean Moons were visible but the Great Red Spot was not visible.

2236 MST: LXD55 OFF.

Close: Thursday, 23 May 2019, 2250 MST
Temperature: 53°F
Session Length: 4h 14m
Conditions: Clear

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