Cassiopeia Observatory logo

Explore Alliance Global Star Party,
iPhone Saturn, Mars, Moon

Posted: 7 October 2020

Monday, 5 October 2020, dawned with clouds and a cloudy night forecast, just in time for the closest approach of Mars to the Earth, with the next closest approach not until 2035. Tuesday, 6 October, dawned mostly cloudy, but with a clear sky forecast for Tuesday night.

I went to the observatory early to set up for my live participation on the Explore Alliance Global Star Party.


Open: Tuesday, 6 October 2020, 1659 MST
Temperature: 86°F
Session: 1532
Conditions: Mostly clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 5.5mm 100° eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

First, I SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals. I then set up the iPad Pro 9.7" on the observatory patio. It would be used to stream my session live for the Global Star Party.


1717 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1721 MST: I joined the pre-show. Here are some of the participants. That's me outside of the observatory in the upper left corner.

Click to watch a replay of the star party

1800 MST: sunset (time approximate due to clouds along the western horizon).

As the sky became darker I relaxed on the observatory patio bench while listening to the guest speakers at the star party.

1912 MST: while relaxing I watched a nice bright pass of the International Space Station (ISS). As it passed near Polaris I saw a moderately bright meteor pass near (but actually 100s of miles below) the ISS.

1916 MST: Mars was rising over the hill to the east.

1918 MST: back inside the observatory and viewed Saturn using the Explore Scientific 2" 5.5mm 100° eyepiece (443X). Seeing was not very good at the time so I switched to 271X, which provided a better view.

1956 MST: moved the iPad and tripod inside the observatory and set it up to view the iPhone 11 Pro Max mounted on the Explore Scientific 2" 9mm 100° eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. I then waited to go live at the star party.

1958 MST: I was briefly live for an introduction.

While waiting to go live again I took this iPhone afocal 271X image of Saturn using the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 400, 1/40sec, 1X lens).


2200-2208 MST: I did my live presentation and briefly discussed how I do iPhone astrophotography. After I left the star party I began imaging Mars using the iPhone.

These images were taken afocally 271X using NightCap Camera.

ISO 32, 1/120sec, 1X lens

Stack of 921 frames, 30fps, ISO 32, 1/300sec, 30 seconds, 1X lens

2231 MST: viewed Mars, 271X and 443X. Mounted the iPhone on the 5.5mm eyepiece. Took several afocal 443X images and videos of Mars.

NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/250sec, 1X lens)

Stack of 921 frames, NightCap Camera (30fps, ISO 32, 1/200sec, 30 seconds, 1X lens

Stack of 2516 frames, iOS Camera (slo-mo, 240fps, 10 seconds, 1X lens

2245 MST: viewed Mars, 443X and 102X. Then viewed the waning gibbous Moon, 102X. Took this handheld iPhone image of the Moon using NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/1000sec, 1X lens).


2251 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Tuesday, 6 October 2020, 2303 MST
Temperature: 65°F
Session Length: 6h 04m
Conditions: Clear

Comments are welcome using Email. Twitter users can use the button below to tweet this report to their followers. Thanks.

Previous report

Cassiopeia Observatory Home Page

Back to Top

Copyright ©2020 Michael L. Weasner /