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New Cabinet, ISS, Asteroid Conniewalker,
Cone Nebula & Christmas Tree Cluster

Posted: 5 February 2021

Clouds returned late Sunday afternoon, 31 January 2021, and continued until Thursday, 4 February.

Thursday morning I replaced two plastic storage bins (top photo) that I've had in the observatory since 2009 with a Husky 26 inch 4-Drawer Tool Chest (middle photo) purchased from Home Depot (on sale for $89). It came assembled so I removed the side handle and the casters on the bottom. The drawers have rubber mats for padding and easily hold my 1.25" and 2" eyepieces and my accessories. The bottom photo is a fisheye photograph of the interior of my SkyShed POD XL5.


Thursday night before going out to the observatory I watched the beginning of the celebration of Clyde Tombaugh's 115th birthday. (click image to view the replay)

Click image to view replay

Open: Thursday, 4 February 2021, 1859 MST
Temperature: 58°F
Session: 1590
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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


1903 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Updated the AutoStar with the International Space Station (ISS) TLE for this night's short pass.

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus, focused on the star Rigel, locked the 12" mirror, and tweaked the alignment of both finderscopes.

1923 MST: the Zodiacal Light was visible in the western sky.

1930 MST: the pass of the ISS began. I did a prime focus 1080p, 60fps, 1/1600sec, ISO 1600, video recording as the telescope tracked the space station. Unfortunately I lost the station near its closest approach. Here are two frames (cropped) from the video showing the main core and the solar panels.


I then mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer, focused on the star Procyon, SYNCed the AutoStar, and locked the 12" mirror.

1945 MST: the breezes had calmed down now.

1950 MST: Stella Wi-Fi Adapter ON.

Used SkySafari 6 Pro on my iPhone 11 Pro Max to GOTO Asteroid 29292 Conniewalker, Mag. +17.6.

1957 MST: StarLock ON.

I imaged the asteroid at 2000 MST and 2100 MST, StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400. The animated image shows the asteroid moving during the one hour interval.


I fell in love with asteroids as an undergraduate astrophysics student at Indiana University. In 1966, as a freshman, I worked on the IU Asteroid Program. I was on the Program for four years and even worked there full-time during the summer after graduation in 1970. I was one of several students who would measure star and asteroid positions on 8x10 inch photographic glass plates using the Gaertner Measuring Engine. Photographing asteroids that are named for people and places that I know is an obsession with me and I am thrilled to have added Asteroid 29292, named for Connie Walker, to my collection of images on my Asteroids & Dwarf Planets album.

2005 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

2113 MST: dome OFF (onto PZT).

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer + UHC filter, focused on Procyon, and locked the mirror.

Slewed to NGC2264, Cone Nebula, Christmas Tree Cluster, and the Fox Fur Nebula. Did some framing test images. Then took this StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 6400, White Balance 5000K, image (slightly cropped) of NGC2264. The Cone Nebula is at the left with the Christmas Tree Cluster, and the Fox Fur Nebula at the right.


2144 MST: StarLock OFF.

Removed the D850 and focal reducer. Viewed the Christmas Tree Cluster, 102X.

2201 MST: LX600 OFF.

2203 MST: dome ON.

2214 MST: took a Sky Quality reading using a Unihedron SQM-L. Reported the result to Globe at Night.

Close: Thursday, 4 February 2021, 2219 MST
Temperature: 45°F
Session Length: 3h 20m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.19

Astronomy Technology Today magazine has published my "Sensei Step-Down Rings for Camera Lenses" review in Volume 15 Issue 1.

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