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iPhone 11 Pro Max tests,
LXD55/ETX-105 accessory test, Moon

Posted: 10 October 2019

Sunday, 6 October 2019, was mostly clear but after an hours long power outage that began about 0330 MST I was too wiped out to go to the observatory. I had planned to go to the observatory Monday, 7 October, but as sunset approached clouds appeared and strong breezes came up. Tuesday, 8 October, was clear but after a long day of activities, including upgrading to an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max from my iPhone 8 Plus, and with another long day of activities the next day, I skipped opening the observatory that night.

Open: Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 1807 MST
Temperature: 86°F
Session: 1392
Conditions: Clear

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

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Upon arrival at the observatory I discovered there was no electricity. The GFCI had tripped, probably during the 5 hour long power outage on Sunday, 6 October. Resetting the GFCI restored power to the observatory.

This evening I would be doing some initial tests of my new iPhone 11 Pro Max.

I set up my LXD55/ETX-105 on the observatory patio. I would use the system for some tests of a product I'm reviewing. Stay tuned for the review. iPhone 11 Pro Max photos taken with the normal and ultra wide angle lenses showing the setup:

Normal lens

Ultra wide angle lens

That's the waxing gibbous Moon in the ultra wide angle lens photo.

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

1825 MST: viewed Jupiter and four moons, 102X.

SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV. I then updated the TLE for this night's pass of the International Space Station (ISS).

1833 MST: Meade Stella Wi-Fi ON.

I then tested SkySafari 6 Pro on my new iPhone. It worked as expected and could still control my telescope. I also tested ScopeBoss on the new iPhone. It also worked as expected to control the telescope.

Viewed Saturn, 102X.

1839 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

1842 MST: mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus of the 12" telescope, focused on Jupiter, checked the alignment of both finderscopes, and locked the 12" primary mirror. Everything was in readiness for the ISS pass to start (1918 MST).

Tracking was fairly good during the pass. But I lost sight of the ISS has it passed through the zenith and the finderscopes became obscured by the edge of the dome. Unfortunately there were no good images of the ISS in the 2160p, 30fps, 1/2000sec, ISO 1600, video. The ISS was either too faint or overexposed.

1929 MST: removed the D850 DSLR. Viewed the waxing gibbous Moon, 102X. Breezes had picked up.

I then went to the LXD55/ETX-105. I did a rough polar alignment of the GEM.

The scene looked nice with the Moon's illumination and some stars being visible. I decided to test "Night Mode" on the iPhone 11 Pro Max Camera app. These are handheld photos:


Stars are visible in photos. Pretty impressive.

1941 MST: LXD55 ON.

Did an Easy Alignment with the AutoStar #497. Then viewed the Moon using the 26mm + a Wide Field Adapter. Next, I viewed the Moon with just a 26mm eyepiece (57X). Both views were really good.

I mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on a 26mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Adapter. This is the Moon, afocal 57X, taken with the Camera app through the 1X iPhone lens:


I also viewed Saturn with the ETX-105, 57X. Nice view.

2003 MST: LXD55 OFF.

Returned to the 12" telescope. I did some iPhone 11 Pro Max lunar imaging tests using the Moon, afocal 102X, handheld. With the Camera app and the 0.5X (ultra wide angle) lens, the image was way overexposed and there was not enough exposure adjustment available to correct it. With the Camera app and the 1X (normal) lens I had no problems getting a usable image. With the Camera app and the 2X (telephoto) lens I could not get a usable image as the Camera app would keep switching back automatically the 1X lens with a 2X digital magnification as I moved the phone around trying to align the 2X lens over the eyepiece. This switching made it difficult to get a handheld 2X lens image of the Moon. Using the NightCap Camera app I was able to fully control the camera lens and exposures to get good photos of the Moon.

Camera app, 1X lens

NightCap Camera app, 0.5X lens (ISO 21, 1/900sec)

NightCap Camera app, 2X lens (ISO 21, 1/460sec)

2023 MST: LX600 OFF.

So far I have been impressed by the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the new Camera app. The ultra wide angle lens does have some vignetting and coma in the corners. Night Mode is amazing. I will be doing some Deep Sky Object (DSO) astrophotography with the iPhone 11 Pro Max once the Moon is no longer a factor. While I expect to use NightCap Camera with its Long Exposure mode for DSO imaging, I also plan to try out the Camera app Night Mode on DSOs and the Milky Way.

Close: Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 2035 MST
Temperature: 70°F
Session Length: 2h 28m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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