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Observatory Power Update; ETX-90 iPhone Moon;
Explore Alliance Ambassador

Posted: 6 December 2019

Sunday, 1 December 2019, was mostly clear. I didn't open the observatory that night as the electrician was scheduled to come early the next morning to work on the fried GFCI in the observatory. Monday, 2 December, began partly cloudy and became mostly cloudy mid-day. The electrician was a no-show that morning. Tuesday, 3 December, was cloudy as another storm system was approaching. The electrician came on Tuesday. He discovered that the box below the floor level was full of water.


How the water got into the box was not obvious but it likely came from rain water coming in beneath the POD wall and under the carpet as there was no evidence of water on top of the carpet. He will get a box that will raise the outlets above floor level and will return to install the new box and outlets. Not yet certain when that will happen. Wednesday, 4 December, was mostly cloudy. I went to the observatory and removed the water in the box.


Had some rain (0.008") before sunrise Thursday, 5 December. Cloudy skies continued until about sunset when the sky was mostly clear.

While the observatory power outage has been a nuisance and the weather mostly uncooperative, the outage is giving me some opportunities to use some of my other telescopes. For the previous two sessions I used my Meade ETX-70AT (from 2001). This night I would use my Meade ETX-90AT (originally the ETX Astro Telescope I purchased in 1996).

Open: Thursday, 5 December 2019, 1813 MST
Temperature: 57°F
Session: 1410
Conditions: Mostly clear

1.25" 26mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

I set up my Meade ETX-90AT on the observatory patio. This photo shows the planets Saturn and Venus just above center along with some clouds.


1821 MST: ETX-90AT ON.

Viewed Venus and Saturn, 48X. Saturn was a nice view with the Ring and the moon Titan clearly visible.

I then viewed the Moon, 48X. Also a nice view.

I mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the ETX using the Meade Smartphone Adapter. Took this afocal 48X image of the Moon using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/450sec, 1X lens). I used the Phone Skope Bluetooth Remote as a remote shutter release.


This image used the 2X telephone lens (ISO 21, 1/200sec, 2X lens).


I removed the phone and adapter and began doing some Deep Sky Object viewing, 48X.

Viewed M45 (the Pleiades, open star cluster), M27 (Dumbbell Nebula, planetary nebula), M57 (Ring Nebula, planetary nebula), and the Double Cluster (open star clusters). Next I viewed the globular clusters M56 and M15. M15 was especially nice and bright. I then viewed the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and its satellite galaxies M32 and M110. Faint M110 was difficult to see due to moonlight and some thin clouds. I tried to view the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) but the moonlit sky and thin clouds rendered it invisible with the ETX-90.

The last object I viewed was Albireo, 48X. It is always a pretty and colorful double star.

The AutoStar #497 GOTOs were excellent. All objects were placed near the center of the 26mm eyepice field-of-view.

Humidity was getting to be a problem. My logbook paper was getting damp and even a cloth bag was wet.

1908 MST: ETX-90AT OFF.

This was a fun session using my old "Mighty ETX".

Close: Thursday, 5 December 2019, 1915 MST
Temperature: 50°F
Session Length: 1h 02m
Conditions: Partly cloudy, high humidity

I have been selected as an Explore Alliance Ambassador in recognition of my long time astronomy and night sky protection outreach efforts. It is a honor to join this amazing group of Ambassadors.


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