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Visitor, Venus, Piggyback Galaxy Imaging

Posted: 23 April 2020

Tuesday, 21 April 2020, was clear but very windy. Wednesday, 22 April, was clear and less windy.

Open: Wednesday, 22 April 2020, 1819 MST
Temperature: 89°F
Session: 1459
Conditions: Clear, breezy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 15mm eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
2" 2X Powermate

iPhone 11 Pro Max
ScopeStuff Camera Mount

When I arrived at the observatory, this Pyrroluxia was singing to me.


1825 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X and 163X. Added a Moon Filter to the 15mm eyepiece, which reduced the brightness of the planet and made the view very nice.

Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 15mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. Took this afocal 163X (Moon Filter) of Venus using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/450sec, 2X lens).


Then did a 10 seconds slo-mo (240fps) video recording of Venus, afocal 163X (Moon Filter), using the iOS Camera app (2X lens). This is a stack of 2476 frames.


1900 MST: sunset. Calm now.

1918 MST: last look at Venus, 102X.

1920 MST: dome OFF (onto PZT).

Slewed to M65 (galaxy in the Leo Triplet of Galaxies). It was not yet visible against the twilight sky.

1930 MST: mounted the D850 DSLR with 70-300mm lens piggyback on the 12" LX600 using the ScopeStuff Camera Mount (I will post my review soon). 1952 MST: iPhone photo of the telescope and camera with the bottom portion of Orion visible in the sky.


2023 MST: all three of the Leo Triplet of Galaxies (M65, M66, and NGC3628 Sarah's Galaxy) were visible, 102X.

StarLock autoguided sky photo (full-frame) showing the Leo Triplet taken with the D850 DSLR (f/5.6, 5 minutes, ISO 4000, White Balance 5560K, FL 300mm).


This is a cropped version of the same photo showing the three galaxies (M65 at right, M66 at left, and NGC3628 at top).


Then slewed to M60 (galaxy) and did a StarLock autoguided 5 minutes exposure, FL 300mm. The image captured many galaxies. Click on the photo to view a larger version. If you are viewing on a large screen you will see many galaxies throughout the photo.

Click or tap on image for larger version

2058 MST: dome ON.

Slewed to M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy). This is a StarLock autoguided sky photo (full-frame) showing the Whirlpool Galaxy, D850 DSLR (f/5.6, 1 minute, ISO 4000, White Balance 5560K, FL 300mm).


This is a cropped version of the same photo showing M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy).


2109 MST: ended piggyback imaging. Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 30mm eyepiece and did some more tests of an iOS app for an upcoming review.

2147 MST: ended tests.

2200 MST: slewed to M87 (galaxy) and tried to see the jet from the black hole at the center of the galaxy, 271X and 542X. I could never convince myself that I could see the thin jet with the 12" telescope.

2214 MST: LX600 OFF.

2223 MST: took a Sky Quality reading and reported the results to Globe at Night.

Close: Wednesday, 22 April 2020, 2229 MST
Temperature: 62°F
Session Length: 4h 10m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.23

I was interviewed by the Arizona Republic for their article Here's what stars you can look for in Arizona during International Dark Sky Week.

I was also interviewed by a Phoenix TV station for International Dark Sky Week. Click the link to view the video.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has introduced their "Dark Sky Friendly Home Lighting Program". You can complete a self-survey of your outdoor lighting and then receive an IDA Dark Sky Friendly Home certificate. Click the link to read about the Program and do the short survey. I did it for our home and earned this certificate.


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