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Nova in the Constellation of Cassiopeia

Posted: 21 March 2021

Saturday morning, 20 March 2021, I went to the observatory to do some maintenance on the SkyShed POD. The door, after nearly 12 years of use and the Arizona Sun, had shifted slightly downward on the side where the locking rods are located. I reversed the rods. Problem solved.


Open: Saturday, 20 March 2021, 1810 MST
Temperature: 84°F
Session: 1612
Conditions: Mostly clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
1.25" 25mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

I set up my ETX-70AT telescope and my D850 DSLR on the observatory patio.


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

I tried to power on the ETX-70 but the batteries were dead. Replaced the batteries.

1835 MST: sunset.

1840 MST: ETX-70AT ON. Did a "fake" AutoStar alignment by just accepting the alignment stars as centered. The I viewed the Moon, 14X.

This handheld iPhone 11 Pro Max, afocal 14X, taken with NightCap Camera (ISO 160, 1/350sec, 1X lens) shows how the Moon appeared in the ETX-70.


I then took a quick look at the Moon with the 12" telescope, 105X.

Back at the ETX-70 I slewed to the star Sirius and SYNCed the AutoStar. Slewed to M42 (Orion Nebula) but it was not yet visible in the bright twilight sky.

Back at the 12" telescope I did some observing of the Moon. Took this handheld iPhone 11 Pro Max, afocal 105X, with NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/710sec, 1X lens)


1934 MST: viewed M42 in the ETX-70, 14X. Some nebulosity was visible but the bright moonlit sky hampered the view.

1935 MST: ETX-70AT OFF.

I then began preparing to try to image the newly discovered Nova Cas 2021 using the D850 DSLR. The current Magnitude was reported to be about +7.5. Clouds were rapidly approaching Cassiopeia. I took several photographs of Cassiopeia in the hope of trying to get the nova.

1945 MST: success. This photo (f/2.8, 10 seconds, untracked, ISO 4000, White Balance 4550K, FL 50mm) shows the constellation of Cassiopeia and the nova.

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for pointer

This cropped image from the same photo shows Nova Cas 2021. The fuzzy area up and to the right of the nova is M52 (open star cluster).

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for pointer

1951 MST: ended sky photography due to the clouds.

I then tried to locate the nova using 12x50 binoculars, but the clouds, low altitude, and bright Moon light prevented it.

2000 MST: the low altitude of the nova also prevented imaging the nova in the 12" telescope. The nova was behind a tree.

The clouds had moved east of Cassiopeia so I did some more sky photography. Unfortunately, the nova was too low now.

2011 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 20 March 2021, 2023 MST
Temperature: 61°F
Session Length: 2h 13m
Conditions: Mostly clear

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