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iPhone Messier Objects, Running Man Nebula;
Dim Betelgeuse in Orion

Posted: 3 January 2020

Wednesday, 1 January 2020, dawned clear but clouds appeared by mid-day. Thursday, 2 January, dawned partly cloudy with a clear sky forecast for the night.

Open: Thursday, 2 January 2020, 1811 MST
Temperature: 54°F
Session: 1418
Conditions: Clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
SkyTracker Pro

iPhone 11 Pro Max
D7200 DSLR

This was my first good clear night of 2020 and so it was my first session of 2020 at Cassiopeia Observatory.

As I wanted to photograph the constellation of Orion to show how much the star Betelgeuse has faded I set up the SkyTracker Pro with my D7200 DSLR (same camera as used to photograph Orion in 2017). This photo of the setup was taken with "Night Mode" on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Some stars are visible.


I polar aligned the SkyTracker Pro. I then SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV.

Orion was now visible above the hill to the East. Betelgeuse appeared just slightly brighter than the star Bellatrix (Mag. +1.6). I estimated that Betelgeuse was about Mag. +1.3, down from its normal Mag. +0.6.

1834 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the planet Venus, 102X. A gibbous phase was visible.

Viewed the near First Quarter Moon, 102X.

Took this handheld afocal 102X photo of the Moon with the iPhone 11 Pro Max (Camera app).


I then did some lunar observing, 271X. The shadow of Mons Hadley looked good. Mounted the iPhone on the 9mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. Took this photo with the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/120sec). The Mons Hadley shadow is above center.


Next, I viewed M78 (nebula), 102X and 81X, and then M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion), 81X.

Mounted the iPhone on the 30mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter.

1934 MST: StarLock ON.

This StarLock autoguided afocal 81X photo of M42 was taken using the iOS Camera "Night Mode", 30 seconds exposure.


I then centered M43 for this StarLock autoguided afocal 81X photo taken with NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 12500, 1sec, 1 minute).


This is M78, StarLock autoguided afocal 81X photo, NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 12500, 1sec, 1 minute).


I wondered if the iPhone 11 Pro Max could image NGC1977 (Running Man Nebula) so I slewed the 12" telescope to it. This StarLock autoguided afocal 81X photo, NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 12500, 1sec, 1 minute) does show the Running Man.


2014 MST: StarLock OFF.

I moved to the SkyTracker Pro on the observatory patio and took a tracked photograph of the constellation of Orion using the D7200 DSLR (f/3.8, 30 seconds, ISO 1600, White Balance Auto, FL 26mm). This night's photo (cropped) is on the right below with a similar photo taken in 2017 with the same camera and exposure settings. This night's image was only 30 seconds vs 60 seconds for the 2017 photo due to the nearby bright Moon. I increased the exposure during post-processing to try to match the brightness of the stars.

photo photo

The red star Betelqeuse at the upper left is noticeably brighter in the 2017 photo.

This completed the imaging for the night.

2037 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Thursday, 2 January 2020, 2048 MST
Temperature: 39°F
Session Length: 2h 37m
Conditions: Clear

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