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iPhone M81 & M82 Galaxies Astrophotography

Posted: 3 March 2021

Sunday, 28 February 2021, was windy all day and clouds came in mid-afternoon. The clouds cleared as sunset approached but the wind continued all night. The wind continued on Monday, 1 March. Tuesday, 2 March, dawned clear but very windy. Some clouds began arriving mid-day, but the clouds cleared late afternoon and the strong wind died down.

Open: Tuesday, 2 March 2021, 1813 MST
Temperature: 75°F
Session: 1606
Conditions: Clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 50mm eyepiece
1.25" 26mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1822 MST: sunset.

1823-1850 MST: relaxed on the observatory patio bench.

1851 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision ON.

1852 MST: slewed to M82 (Cigar Galaxy). The galaxy was not yet visible in bright twilight sky, 49X.

1901 MST: M82 now faintly visible, 49X.

High Precision OFF.

Slewed the 12" telescope to put both M81 (Bode's Galaxy) and M82 (Cigar Galaxy) in the same field-of-view, 49X.

1925 MST: Mounted the iPhone on the 2" 50mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter.

1932 MST: StarLock ON.

Imaged M81 and M82, StarLock autoguided, afocal 49X using the NightCap Camera app (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 12500, 1sec shutter speed, 1 minute exposure, 1X lens). Took five images. This is one of the images.


Then used the Camera app (Night Mode, 30 seconds, 1X lens) and took 10 StarLock autoguided images. This is one of the Camera app images.


The five NightCap Camera app images and the 10 Camera app images were stacked using Affinity Photo, with final editing in GraphicConverter.

NightCap Camera app

Camera app

1951 MST: StarLock OFF.

Viewed M81 and M82, 49X.

Viewed M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), low in the northeastern sky, 49X, 94X, and 102X.

2007 MST: High Precision ON.

I began observing some "Galaxy Trios" listed in Miles Paul's "Atlas of Galaxy Trios". I have been working my way through this list since September 2020. This night I observed the following at 102X:

NGC2854/2856/2857 (Mag. +13.0/13.1/12.3)
NGC2964/2968/2970 (Mag. +11.3/11.7/13.6)
NGC3165/3166/3169 (Mag. +13.9/10.4/10.2) [NGC3165 was not visible]
NGC3202/3205/3207 (Mag. +13.2/13.2/13.2)
M105/NGC3384/3389 (Mag. +9.3/9.9/11.9)

2048 MST: LX600 OFF.

2055 MST: took a Sky Quality Reading using the Unihedron SQM-L meter.

Close: Tuesday, 2 March 2021, 2100 MST
Temperature: 56°F
Session Length: 2h 47m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 21.06

I received new ceramic tiles from Robert Vice. These are really cool!

photo photo

If you would like Robert to make tiles for you, contact him at robertvice (at) Tell him I sent you.

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