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Visitors, Perigee Moon, iPhone Galaxies,
Comet ATLAS, Neighbor Greenhouse Light

Posted: 16 March 2020

Cloudy skies returned on Thursday, 5 March 2020.

Friday morning, 6 March, our Roadrunner neighbor came by with a gift for our cat Cato.


Shortly after noon on Friday he came back with another gift.


Cato didn't see the Roadrunner the first time but did on the second visit. However, he wasn't interested in the gift of a lizard. A little later Roadrunner came by again and he and Cato discussed the lizard gift.


Always something neat to see here!

Saturday, 7 March, began with clouds, cleared by mid-day, but the clouds returned as sunset approached. Sunday night, 8 March, there was a brief opportunity to photograph the near Full Perigee Moon using the D850 DSLR with a focal length 600mm lens (f/11, 1/640sec, ISO 200). The Moon's angular diameter was 33'28" at a distance of 220,188 miles. I hope to photograph the Full Apogee Moon 1 October 2020 when it will be 29'30" at a distance of 250,089 miles.

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Thick overcast clouds Monday night, 9 March, prevented photographing the Full Moon.

Had light rain on Tuesday, 10 March, and Wednesday, 11 March. totalling 0.06". Rain of 0.22" (although 1-1.5" had been forecast) continued on Thursday, 12 March. Friday, 13 March, had 0.46" rain.

Cloudy skies continued until Saturday, 14 March. I attended Oracle State Park's 5th Anniversary Celebration of becoming an IDA "International Dark Sky Park". With all the closures and event cancellations occurring, attendees expressed great appreciation that the Park was still open and that they had a reason to get outside away from all the media coverage of the COVID-19 virus.

Open: Sunday, 15 March 2020, 1820 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session: 1446
Conditions: Clear

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

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1826 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X. Near half-phase.

1834 MST: sunset.

Began preparing for iPhone and DSLR imaging.

1850 MST: slewed the 12" telescope to M42 (Orion Nebula). The Trapezium star cluster was nicely visible against the bright blue sky, 102X and 81X.

1906 MST: noticed that Betelgeuse is definitely brighter than it was a few weeks ago.

1914 MST: the central brightest portion of the Orion Nebula was now visible, 81X. The end of Astronomical Twilight would not be until 1954 MST.

1924 MST: I began hearing a noise outside of the observatory. I thought it might be the packrat who likes to climb up onto one of the bays and it was.


1925 MST: Orion Nebula nebulosity now nicely visible, 81X.

1930 MST: did some observing using the Vortex 12x50 binoculars. Viewed Venus, M45 (Pleiades), Double Cluster, M42 (Orion Nebula), M41 (open star cluster), and M44 (Praesepe, Beehive Cluster). All were nice views.

1938 MST: the Zodiacal Light was visible in the western sky.

1939 MST: although I was not specifically looking for one, I saw a satellite cross through Canis Major. It was likely a SpaceX Starlink satellite, about Magnitude +4.

1950 MST: mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 2" 30mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter.

1952 MST: StarLock ON.

Began doing some iPhone astrophotography tests with the iOS app SpiralCam. I will post a review once I complete more tests with the app.

2008 MST: High Precision ON.

Began doing more imaging for my iPhone Messier Catalog Astrophotography album. These are StarLock autoguided, afocal 81X images captured with the iOS app NightCam Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 12500, 1sec, 1 minute exposure, 1X lens).

M105 galaxy with NGC3371 and NGC3373 galaxies
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M108 galaxy

2037 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Done with iPhone imaging. Viewed M108 (galaxy), 102X.

2047 MST: Meade Stella Wi-Fi Adapter ON.

Used SkySafari 6 Pro on the iPhone to GOTO Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). Viewed the comet, 102X. A faint extended coma was visible, but no tail was visible.

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus, focused on the star Capella using the Meade Bahtinov Mask, and locked the telescope using the ScopeStuff LX600 12" Primary Mirror Lock. Using SkySafari slewed back to the comet.

2101 MST: StarLock ON.

This is a StarLock autoguided, prime focus image of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 5560K. A short tail is visible in the image.


2125 MST: StarLock OFF, Wi-Fi OFF.

2136 MST: viewed the comet again, 102X.

The neighbor to the northwest of the observatory who installed bright floodlights that shine well beyond their property line haven't had them on much recently. Maybe my discussion with them a couple of years finally sunk in. Their lights definitely fell into the Light Nuisance, Light Trespass, and Light Pollution categories. Unfortunately another neighbor's new greenhouse lighting falls into those same categories. I still haven't caught up with them to discuss properly shielding the light escaping from the greenhouse all night long. My fault, not theirs. Here is what the lighting looks like and how it impacts my observatory. Notice that the telescope tube is casting a shadow.


2156 MST: LX600 OFF.

2207 MST: took an Sky Quality measurement. Reported the result to the Globe at Night.

Close: Sunday, 15 March 2020, 2213 MST
Temperature: 52°F
Session Length: 3h 53m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.29

The International Dark-Sky Association has submitted a letter to the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality regarding megaconstellations. You can learn more about their comments at "The Human Environment Includes Orbital Space".

12 March 2020 was the 15th anniversary of my first visit to "Oracle Observatory". After we bought our "retirement land" in Oracle, Arizona, in late 2004, I finally got a chance to come to our land with a tent and a telescope to spend a night. I posted a report a few days later. I had hoped to spend the night in the observatory on 12 March 2020 to celebrate the anniversary, but an overcast sky and rain prevented it.

Due to the COVID-19 virus the Second Annual David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party and Astrophotography Workshops, scheduled for 20-24 May, has been cancelled. I was to be a guest speaker. The event will be rescheduled once things settle down.

A Vintage Astronomy Books group has been created on Facebook. I submitted this photo on my oldest astronomy book, published in 1846.


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