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iPhone Astrophotography Nova V1405 Cas & M52 Star Cluster

Posted: 23 March 2021

Monday, 22 March 2021, was another Red Flag Wind Warning day with strong winds blowing during the daytime. At least the sky was mostly clear. As sunset approached there were still strong breezes, but I decided to open the observatory anyway. This could be the last clear night for awhile and with Nova V1405 Cas getting lower in the northwestern sky every night, this might be my last chance to observe it.

Open: Monday, 22 March 2021, 1808 MST
Temperature: 76°F
Session: 1614
Conditions: Mostly clear, breezy

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1813 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1815 MST: viewed the Moon, 102X and 81X.

Mounted the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the 2" 30mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk Smartphone Adapter. Took this afocal 81X photo of the Moon using NightCap Camera (ISO 32, 1/4300sec, 1X lens).


1840 MST: sunset.

1851 MST: slewed to M52 (open star cluster) in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The recently discovered Nova V1405 Cas would appear in the same field-of-view as M52 using the 2" 30mm eyepiece (81X). Nothing was visible yet in the bright twilight sky. Unfortunately, the nova and star cluster were already so low in the northwestern sky that they were getting into the tree branches as seen from the observatory. The good news was that the breezes had finally ended.

1904 MST: three stars were now visible in the eyepiece. Was one of them the nova?

1917 MST: positive ID on Nova V1405 Cas. However, M52 was not yet visible, 81X.

Mounted the iPhone on the 30mm eyepiece using the Levenhuk adapter.

1920 MST: StarLock ON. Surprisingly it was able to get a lock on a guide star through the tree branches.

I took several images of the nova using NightCap Camera at various exposure settings. Both the nova and the M52 star cluster appeared in the live view image, making it easy to adjust the framing. This is a StarLock autoguided, afocal 81X, exposure (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 5766, 1sec, 1 minute, 1X lens) showing the nova and star cluster. North is at the top, but the image is mirror reversed left-right, as seen in the eyepiece.

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1932 MST: StarLock OFF.

Viewed Nova V1405 Cas and M52 in same field-of-view, 81X and 102X.

1942 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Monday, 22 March 2021, 1954 MST
Temperature: 49°F
Session Length: 1h 46m
Conditions: Mostly clear

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