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M81 & M82 Galaxies and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS)

Posted: 23 May 2020

Open: Friday, 22 May 2020, 1812 MST
Temperature: 90°F
Session: 1482
Conditions: Mostly clear, windy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 5.5mm 100° eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1818 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the planet Venus, 102X and 443X.

Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 5.5mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter.

This is a stack of 2280 slo-mo (240fps) video frames, afocal 443X.


1838 MST: began relaxing on the observatory patio bench.

1924 MST: sunset.

1926 MST: viewed Venus and Mercury, 12x50 binoculars.

1930 MST: viewed the planet Mercury, 102X.

I then began preparing the D850 DSLR for piggyback imaging after the end of Astronomical Twilight (2057 MST). I unmounted the Orion 9x50 finderscope from the 12" LX600 telescope.

1949 MST: calm now (finally).

2002 MST: viewed M82 (Cigar Galaxy), 102X. It was faintly visible against the still bright twilight sky.

2006 MST: saw the first Kissing Bug of the season. Terminated it. Then saw and terminated Kissing Bug #2.

2029 MST: viewed M81 (Bode's Galaxy), M82 (Cigar Galaxy) and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS), 12x50 binoculars. The comet was a faint fuzzy spot. It was nice to see them all in the same field-of-view.

2051 MST: ended my stay on the bench. Mounted the D850 DSLR with 70-300mm focal length lens piggyback on the LX600 using the ScopeStuff Camera Mount.

2100 MST: StarLock ON.

Did several framing test exposures. Once I was happy I took this StarLock autoguided 3 minutes, ISO 4000, White Balance 5560K, FL 300mm image (cropped) of M81 (Bode's Galaxy), M82 (Cigar Galaxy) and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS).


I also did 5 minute exposures but had an issue, that also shows up slightly in the 3 minute exposure. During post-processing I realized my mistake: I had forgotten to turn Vibration Reduction OFF on the lens. I plan to image the galaxies and comet again on the next session.

2150 MST: StarLock OFF.

2203 MST: LX600 OFF.

2207 MST: did a Sky Quality reading using the Unihedron SQM-L meter. Reported the results to Globe at Night.

Close: Friday, 22 May 2020, 2217 MST
Temperature: 67°F
Session Length: 4h 05m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.22

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