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

Posted: 25 May 2020

Clouds began appearing in the northwestern sky mid-afternoon on Saturday, 23 May 2020, along with strong wind. The clouds arrived earlier than forecast and eliminated my plans to photograph the Moon-Venus-Mercury conjunction after sunset and my M81, M82, and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS) imaging at night. Sunset looked like this:


Sunday, 24 May, was clear, but still breezy.

Open: Sunday, 24 May 2020, 1803 MST
Temperature: 89°F
Session: 1483
Conditions: Clear, breezy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 14mm 100° eyepiece
2" 5.5mm 100° eyepiece
1.25" 15mm eyepiece
1.25" 5.5mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max
D7200 DSLR

1811 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X and 443X.

Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 5.5mm eyepiece. Did a 10 seconds slo-mo (240fps) video of Venus, afocal 443X. This is a stack of 2496 video frames.


Did some tests with the new eyepieces for my upcoming review.

1827 MST: viewed the crescent Moon, 174X and 102X.

1835 MST: relaxed on the observatory patio bench. A quail family walked by.

Click or tap on image to watch the video (4 seconds)

1859 MST: clouds approaching from the northwest.

1924 MST: sunset (time approximate due to clouds). Clouds decreasing.

1925 MST: viewed the Moon, 174X, 163X, 443X, and 102X.

This is a handheld iPhone afocal 102X photo of the Moon taken with NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/700sec, 1X lens).


1936 MST: viewed Mercury, 443X. The near half-phase was visible.

Mercury, iPhone (slo-mo, 240fps, 1X), afocal 443X, stack of 2487 video frames.


1947 MST: relaxed on the bench again and began watching the stars come out.

2002 MST: calm now. Saw a Kissing Bug on the observatory dome but it was too high to reach. Fortunately it was the only one seen this night.

2006 MST: D7200 DSLR photo of the western sky showing the crescent Moon, Earthshine, Mercury, and Venus (f/4.5, 1/30sec, ISO 1600, FL 70mm).

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for labels

I then prepared the D7200 DSLR for piggyback imaging in the hope that the clouds would allow it.

2014 MST: viewed the Moon and Earthshine, 102X. Nice view.

Then returned to the bench.

2039 MST: viewed M82 (Cigar Galaxy), 102X.

2042 MST: viewed M81 (Bode's Galaxy), M82 (Cigar Galaxy), and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS) using 12x50 binoculars. Nice view, although the comet was faint.

Mounted the D7200 DSLR and 70-300mm lens piggyback on the LX600 using the ScopeStuff Camera Mount.

2152 MST: StarLock ON.

Did some framing test images. Then took this StarLock autoguided image of M81 & M82 Galaxies and Comet C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS), f/5.6, 2 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 5560K, 300mm.

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for labels

2121 MST: StarLock OFF.

Viewed M81 (Bode's Galaxy) and M82 (Cigar Galaxy), 102X. Both in the same field-of-view.

Viewed M4 (globular cluster), 102X.

2145 MST: LX600 OFF.

2153 MST: took a Sky Quality reading.

Close: Sunday, 24 May 2020, 2155 MST
Temperature: 65°F
Session Length: 3h 52m
Conditions: Mostly clear, SQM 21.25

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