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iPhone 13 Pro Max Messier Objects, Special Guest

Posted: 27 November 2021

Following the near total Lunar Eclipse Friday morning, 19 November 2021, the sky continued to be cloudy until Friday, 26 November. Monday morning, 22 November, with rain in the forecast, I went to the observatory and put the Dome Cover ON. It was very windy, but I had no difficulty getting the cover inplace using the technique I show in my review. Early Wednesday morning, 24 November, it rained (0.1"). Friday afternoon, in anticipation of opening the observatory that night, I removed the Dome Cover. After sunset, the clouds increased, but I opened the observatory anyway.

Open: Friday, 26 November 2021, 1758 MST
Temperature: 65°F
Session: 1698
Conditions: Partly cloudy

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

iPhone 13 Pro Max

1802 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, 102X and 271X.

Took this handheld iPhone 13 Pro Max photo of the southern sky showing clouds and three planets.

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1830 MST: a special guest and dark sky advocate, Dr. Chad Tolly, arrived for a night under the stars at Cassiopeia Observatory. He had last been here in 2019. We talked, saw many satellites, several meteors, and viewed some objects in the 12" telescope.

1851 MST: viewed Saturn, 271X.

1928 MST: viewed M34 (open star cluster). I then set up for some iPhone afocal imaging tests using a new adapter. Once the tests were completed, I did StarLock autoguided imaging of some Messier Catalog objects with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I attached my prototype LiDAR cover to the phone. Mounted the iPhone on the 2" 30mm eyepiece for these afocal 81X images using the Levenhuk adapter and the NightCap Camera app.

M34 (open cluster), ISO 16000, 1 second, 1X lens)

M74 (galaxy) and Earth satellite, ISO 32000, 5 seconds, 1X lens)

M74 (galaxy), Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 32000, 1 second, 1 minute, 1X lens)

M77 (galaxy), Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 32000, 1 second, 1 minute, 1X lens)

2009 MST: the sky was now mostly clear.

Viewed M77 (galaxy), 102X.

2040 MST: viewed M1 (Crab Nebula), 12x50 binoculars.

2100 MST: I set up the D850 DSLR on the SkyTracker Pro in preparation for an attempt for photograph the European Space Agency (ESA) Solar Orbiter spacecraft on its Earth flyby.


This tracked D850 DSLR image (f/2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 800, White Balance 4550K, FL 24mm) shows the sky before the pass began. The Pleiades (M45) is at the center, the Hyades at the bottom, and the Double Cluster in the upper left corner.


2140-2150 MST: did a tracked image of the sky. Unfortunately, there was a tracking glitch and the stars were badly trailed during the 10 minute exposure. No trail was visible of the faint rapidly moving Solar Orbiter spacecraft.

2205 MST: viewed M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion), 102X. Chad left shortly afterwards.

2219 MST: LX600 OFF.

2230 MST: did a Sky Quality reading and reported the result to Globe at Night.

Close: Friday, 26 November 2021, 2239 MST
Temperature: 45°F
Session Length: 4h 41m
Conditions: Mostly clear, SQM 20.95

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