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Mars-Mercury Conjunction 18arcmin

Posted: 19 June 2019

Tuesday, 18 June 2019, I was interviewed by a reporter from the online magazine Make Change for an upcoming article about IDA International Dark Sky Places and the importance of protecting the night sky.

Also on Tuesday the installation of our Tesla Powerwall house battery system was completed and the system is now operational. Now to start monitoring usage so that we can optimize our energy utilization.


Open: Tuesday, 18 June 2019, 1905 MST
Temperature: 87°F
Session: 1364
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 2X Powermate
2" 4X Powermate


1926 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Slewed to Mercury. Not yet visible against bright sky.

1931 MST: spotted Mercury in the 9x50 finderscope. Centered. Viewed Mercury and Mars separated by only 18' in the same field-of-view (FOV), 102X.

1937 MST: sunset.

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + 2X Powermate.

This image, cropped only horizontally from the full frame image, shows Mars (left) and Mercury (right), 1/250sec, ISO 1600:


1954 MST: removed the camera from the telescope. Viewed Mercury and Mars in the same FOV (barely), 203X. Neat sight.

2004 MST: viewed Mercury and Mars in the western sky using 12x50 binoculars. Pretty.

2014 MST: I was attacked by a Kissing Bug. It was terminated. A second one also flew near me but it got away.

2017 MST: final look at the close conjunction of Mercury and Mars, 102X. The planets were getting too low and into a tree.

2020 MST: viewed Jupiter, low in the southeastern sky and behind a tree, 102X. Four moons were visible.

Stepped outside of the observatory for this photograph (f/2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 3200, FL 65mm) of the western sky and the observatory showing how close Mercury and Mars (just above the trees) were:

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for labels

2036 MST: back in the observatory. Terminated Kissing Bug #2.

As the next day would be a busy day at the local elementary school for a Model Rocket Class, I decided to try imaging Jupiter even though it was still low in the sky. Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + 4X Powermate. The top photo (1/10sec, ISO 2500, full frame) shows the four Galilean Moons. The bottom photo (1/100sec, ISO 2500, full frame) shows the planet cloud bands:


Removed the camera and viewed Jupiter, 406X. Not too bad a view.

2100 MST: final look at Jupiter, 102X.

2101 MST: LX600 OFF.

2105 MST: the eastern sky was brightening from the rising waning gibbous Moon.

Close: Tuesday, 18 June 2019, 2118 MST
Temperature: 76°F
Session Length: 2h 13m
Conditions: Clear

My review of the Phone Skope digiscoping adapter has been republished in the current issue of Astronomy Technology Today magazine.

And speaking of magazines, as a subscriber to Sky & Telescope magazine since 1962 (and I still have all those years of issues), I was excited to see that the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will be taking over ownership of the magazine. Sky & Telescope made the announcement on 18 June 2019.

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