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Special Visitor, Moon on Dome,
SpaceX Inspiration4 Mission

Posted: 17 September 2021

Open: Thursday, 16 September 2021, 1810 MST
Temperature: 78°F
Session: 1668
Conditions: Mostly clear, very hazy

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

iPhone 11 Pro Max

1816 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

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

Then a special visitor from New Jersey joined me in the observatory. It was my niece Linda.

She viewed the planets Mercury, then Venus, 271X. Mercury, about a half-phase, was a difficult object as it was very low in the sky. Venus, also about half-phase, was a much nicer object.

1830 MST: sunset (time approximate due to clouds along the western horizon).

We then viewed the Moon, 102X. I took this handheld afocal 102X photo of the Moon using the iPhone 11 Pro Max Camera app (1X lens).


I showed Linda how to take a photo of the Moon through the telescope using her iPhone. She took some photos.

Next, Linda viewed the planet Saturn and its moon Titan, 271X. That was followed with a view of the planet Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons, 271X.

We then began preparations for the ISS pass. I showed Linda how the telescope would move during the pass. During the pass, she viewed the space station through the telescope at 102X. She also watched the ISS in the sky.

I then projected the Moon onto the observatory dome. Here is Linda and the Moon on Dome (iPhone 11 Pro Max Camera app (Night Mode, 3 seconds, 1X lens).


Although the bright moonlit sky hampered the view, Linda enjoyed seeing stars and the planets in the sky.

I then set up my D850 DSLR with 14mm UWA lens to try to photograph a pass of the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, with four civilian astronauts onboard. The spacecraft would only be Mag. +5.1 at its brightest due to its small size and high orbit. I expected that it would be difficult to see and photograph due to the bright moonlit sky, haze, and some clouds.

During the pass I was surprised that we could occasionally see Resilience, although it was very faint and frequently faded from view. And, due to its distance, it moved very slowly across the sky. Unfortunately, long exposures with the camera overexposed the sky. And short exposures like this one (f/4, 54 seconds, ISO 800) did not capture the faint spacecraft against the bright sky.


But it was a neat treat for both of us to actually see the Resilience spacecraft.

We then ended our session at the observatory.

2030 MST: LX600 OFF.

Linda had a great time and was thrilled by everything she was able to view during the session.

Close: Thursday, 16 September 2021, 2043 MST
Temperature: 74°F
Session Length: 2h 33m
Conditions: Mostly clear, very hazy

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