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Pacman Nebula in Cassiopeia

Posted: 11 November 2020

Clouds began arriving mid-afternoon on Thursday, 5 November 2020. Saturday, 7 November, had occasional short periods of rain (total 0.04") with strong winds. The sky cleared early Sunday morning, 8 November, but clouds began returning late morning with strong winds again. I did get this handheld (cropped) photo of the Sun with sunspot AR2781 (D850 DSLR, f/29, 1/1600sec, ISO 640, FL 600mm).


Before sunrise on Monday, 9 November, had rain (0.54") and even unforecasted light snow. Cloudy skies continued until Tuesday, 10 November. That morning I took a quick look at the Sun and sunspot AR2781 using the Lunt SUNoculars.

Open: Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 1820 MST
Temperature: 57°F
Session: 1550
Conditions: Clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
Focal reducer
UHC filter


1830 MST: viewed Jupiter and Saturn, 12x50 binoculars. Both planets were visible just inside the same 4.6° field-of-view.

Prepared the D850 DSLR for nebula imaging.

1839 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Jupiter and 4 moons, Saturn and 2 moons, and Mars, 102X.

1846 MST: High Precision ON.

Viewed NGC281 (Pacman Nebula) in the constellation of Cassiopeia, 102X. It was faintly visible. SYNCed on the nebula.

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer + UHC filter. Focused on Mars and locked the 12" primary mirror. Slewed back to the Pacman Nebula.

1901 MST: StarLock ON.

This is a StarLock autoguided, 10 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 4000K, image of NGC281 (Pacman Nebula).


1930 MST: High Precision OFF.

Slewed to Sharpless 2-173 (Phantom of the Opera Nebula) in Cassiopeia. Began imaging the nebula. Unfortunately, it was too faint through the UHC, even with a 10 minute exposure. I will try again on a future session using a Hydrogen-Alpha filter.

1954 MST: StarLock OFF.

Removed the camera and viewed M45 (the Pleiades), 102X.

I then began observing so more galaxies in Miles Paul's "Atlas of Galaxy Trios", 102X. This session I observed the following:

NGC678/NGC680/IC1730 (Mag. +12.2, +11.9, +14.3). NGC678 and NGC680 were easy, but IC1730 was only visible intermittently using averted vision.

NGC969/NGC970/NGC974 (Mag. +12.3, +14.7, +12.7). NGC969 and NGC974 were easy, but NGC970 was a challenge.

NGC996/NGC999/NGC1001 (Mag. +13.0, +13.5, +13.9). It took some effort but I finally managed to observe all three galaxies.

2039 MST: LX600 OFF.

2046 MST: took a Sky Quality reading and reported the result to Globe at Night.

Close: Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 2052 MST
Temperature: 43°F
Session Length: 2h 32m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.14

On a recent live broadcast from Explore Alliance I received a nice shoutout from Scott Roberts and Kent Marts of Explore Scientific for my smartphone astrophotography and my Cassiopeia Observatory web site. The comments come near the end of the show "Explore Alliance Live Presents - FirstLight Chronicles Episode 4". These live shows are very entertaining and educational. Check them out at the Explore Scientific web site.

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