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iPhone Venus, Visitors

Posted: 22 March 2020

Cloudy skies returned on Friday, 20 March 2020. Saturday, 21 March, dawned clear with a clear sky forecast for the night.

Open: Saturday, 21 March 2020, 1800 MST
Temperature: 78°F
Session: 1448
Conditions: Mostly clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
2" 50mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

After opening the observatory I SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals.

1809 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the planet Venus, 102X and 271X. Very nice view against a blue sky before sunset.

I handheld the iPhone 11 Pro Max over the 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece for this afocal 271X photo of Venus. It was taken using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/5000sec, 1X lens).


1823 MST: the clouds that were low along the western horizon began getting higher in the sky. The forecast for the night was for a clear sky until after 2200 MST.

I began waiting for some visitors to arrive. The son of the electrician who had wired our newly constructed home and the observatory in 2009 was away from college. He has a strong interest in astronomy. He had attended the star party at Oracle State Park the previous Saturday, and was really looking forward to visiting Cassiopeia Observatory. He and dad were coming this night.

1836 MST: sunset.

Wide angle photograph of the western sky and the observatory. The clouds were rapidly getting closer.


1840 MST: viewed Venus again, 271X. The clouds that had now reached the zenith were hampering the view.

1900 MST: thin clouds were now in most of the sky. Grumble.

1920 MST: the visitors arrived. We did "social distancing" during their stay at the observatory.

The clouds limited what we could view but they did get to see several nice objects. They observed Venus, the Orion Nebula (M42), the Pleiades (M45), the Crab Nebula (M1), Cigar Galaxy (M82), Bode's Galaxy (M81), the double star Mizar, and the Leo Triplet of Galaxies (M65, M66, and Sarah's Galaxy, also known as the Hamburger Galaxy). I then talked about Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) and that it was approaching the Sun. It is exceeding it's brightness prediction and could be a nice naked-eye comet in May. Or maybe not. We will have to wait and see. I then turned on the Wi-Fi adapter and slewed the telescope to the comet using the SkySafari 6 Pro app on my iPhone. They were impressed that I could control the telescope from the iPhone. We then viewed the comet, 102X. The thin clouds interferred with seeing the comet's coma but the nucleus was easily seen. This was the last object viewed. They enjoyed the views through the telescope and want to come back.

They also enjoyed being out under the dark sky here, even though there were clouds. I was asked about the neighbor's greenhouse bright white light and if it bothered me in the observatory. I said that it did, but that I had spoken with the neighbor a few days before and he said would try to fix it. I told them how much the local people seemed to really appreciate their night sky and want to protect it.

2143 MST: the visitors left. I did a few things in the observatory and then began closing up due to the clouds.

2154 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 21 March 2020, 2204 MST
Temperature: 49°F
Session Length: 4h 04m
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

On my 5 March 2020 report I mentioned that I would be switching my domain from http to https. However, due to the increased Internet demand resulting from the COVID-19 virus I have decided to temporarily delay the switch until things settle down. While the impact of the change would be minimal it is not a necessary change and can be delayed.

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