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Bode's Galaxy & Cigar Galaxy

Posted: 11 March 2021

Clouds returned on Sunday, 7 March 2021, and continued until late Tuesday afternoon, 9 March. However, the wind that started on Monday, 8 March, continued throughout the night. Wednesday, 10 March, was clear but hazy with strong wind in the afternoon. The wind began decreasing as sunset approached so I decided to open the observatory with the hope that it would decrease further after sunset.

Open: Wednesday, 10 March 2021, 1818 MST
Temperature: 67°F
Session: 1608
Conditions: Clear, hazy, breezy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
Focal Reducer
2" UHC filter


SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals.

1829 MST: sunset.

1830 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1833 MST: calmer now. Began observing the star Sirius, 271X. I was trying to see Sirius B (the "Pup Star").

While waiting for the sky to get darker I prepared the D850 DSLR for galaxy imaging.

1930 MST: ended my search for Sirius B. No luck.

1935 MST: High Precision ON.

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

Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer + UHC filter, focused on the star Regulus using a mask, SYNCed the AutoStar on the star Regulus, and locked the 12" primary mirror.

1948 MST: StarLock ON.

Did several framing test images (1 minute, ISO 12800) to get M81 and M82 centered in the camera FOV. Had to rotate the camera 90° to get the best framing, which required a refocus on Regulus and more framing test images. Then did StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 12800, White Balance 5560K, images of M81 and M82.

Here are a full frame 1 minute and a full frame 5 minutes exposure.

1 minute
5 minutes

I stacked 4 of the 5 minutes exposures using Affinity Photo for this cropped 20 minutes effective exposure image.


2045 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed M81 and M82, 102X. Then viewed the Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC3628), 102X. All three galaxies were in the same FOV.

2103 MST: LX600 OFF.

2112 MST: did a Sky Quality reading and reported the result to Globe at Night.

Close: Wednesday, 10 March 2021, 2118 MST
Temperature: 46°F
Session Length: 3h 00m
Conditions: Clear, hazy, breezy, SQM 21.10

I have posted my review of the ScopeStuff ETX Rear Cell Thread Adapters with 2" SCT Schmidt Threads.

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