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Crescent Moon, Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS),
M41, Orion, M44

Posted: 26 January 2020

Cloudy skies returned on Friday, 24 January 2020. Saturday, 25 January, dawned clear but with conflicting forecasts for the night. It would either be clear or cloudy. Well, both forecasts were half right. It was partly cloudy to begin with.

Open: Saturday, 25 January 2020, 1804 MST
Temperature: 64°F
Session: 1427
Conditions: Partly cloudy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
12x50 binoculars

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1808 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed gibbous Venus, 102X.

Then viewed the about 27 hour old crescent Moon, low in the southwestern sky and through a tree, 102X.

Took this handheld iPhone 11 Pro Max afocal 102X photo of the Moon using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/120sec, 1X lens).


I then stepped outside of the observatory and took this (cropped) photo of the western sky with the crescent Moon using the D850 DSLR (f/2.8, 1/30sec, ISO 800, FL 70mm).


Returned to the observatory and slewed the 12" telescope to NGC7662 (Blue Snowball Nebula, planetary nebula). It was not yet visible against the twilight sky. Began preparing the D850 DSLR for prime focus imaging of NGC7662 using the Starizona Filter System and the Optolong SHO filters.

1835 MST: viewed NGC7662 (Blue Snowball Nebula), 102X. Then began waiting for Astronomical Twilight to end (1915 MST).

1850 MST: mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus. Focused (or rather, tried to focus) on the star Deneb with the HA filter in place using the Meade Bahtinov Mask. Focusing was difficult due to the star's dimness through the Mask and filter. I tried to confirm the focus without the Mask. I then locked the 12" mirror using the ScopeStuff 12" LX600 Primary Mirror Lock. Slewed to NGC7662.

1901 MST: StarLock ON.

Took several StarLock autoguided images of NGC7662 using the SHO filters. Unfortunately, during post-processing I discovered that the focus was slightly off, making the images unusable. I will try again on a future session using a brighter star to focus.

1933 MST: Zodiacal Light was visible. Logbook papers were getting damp due to the high humidity.

1945 MST: Meade Stella Wi-Fi Adapter ON.

Used SkySafari 6 Pro on my iPhone 11 Pro Max to GOTO Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS). Took the following StarLock autoguided prime focus image (3 minutes, ISO 6400) of the Comet.


1956 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

Removed the DSLR from the telescope.

2007 MST: viewed the comet, 102X. A short tail was faintly visible.

Viewed M41 (open star cluster), 102X and 81X.

Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 2" 30mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. Took this StarLock autoguided iPhone afocal 81X image of M41 using NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 6400, 1sec, 1 minute, 1X lens) using the Earbuds as a remote shutter release.


2026 MST: StarLock OFF.

I used the Vortex 12x50 binoculars to view M42 (Great Nebula in Orion) and M44 (Praesepe, open star cluster). Nice views.

Next, I took this handheld D850 DSLR photo of the constellation of Orion (f/2.8, 1/4sec, ISO 6400, FL 70mm).


This handheld D850 DSLR (slightly cropped) photo (f/2.8, 1/4sec, ISO 25600, FL 70mm) shows the open star cluster M44 (Praesepe).


Viewed M42 (Great Nebula in Orion), 81X and 102X.

2056 MST: LX600 OFF.

2101 MST: took a Sky Quality reading using the Unihedron SQM-L. Reported the results to the Globe at Night.

Close: Saturday, 25 January 2020, 2110 MST
Temperature: 50°F
Session Length: 3h 06m
Conditions: Mostly clear, 48% humidity, SQM 21.09

I am honored to once again be asked to be a guest speaker at the Annual David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party. This year's event will be 20-24 May.


Read my report of last year's awesome First Annual David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party.

Comments are welcome using Email. Twitter users can use the button below to tweet this report to their followers. Thanks.

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