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iPhone Mercury, Comet Pons-Brooks, Moon

Posted: 17 March 2024

Nineteen years ago on 12 March 2005, I visited what I then called Oracle Observatory for the first time! Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy on 12 March 2024. With rain in the forecasts, Thursday morning, 14 March, I put the Dome Cover ON. Rain (0.57") and even several periods of graupel arrived Friday afternoon, 15 March. I have been hoping to do a dry run for the 8 April Total Solar Eclipse since the beginning of March, but cloudy days and/or strong winds have kept me from doing it. As sunset approached on Saturday, 16 March, the sky began some clearing. I decided to open the observatory to check out Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks.

Open: Saturday, 16 March 2024, 1759 MST
Temperature: 65°F
Session: 1949
Conditions: Mostly clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm UWA eyepiece
12x50 binoculars

iPhone 15 Pro Max

Dome Cover OFF.

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

1819 MST: Viewed Jupiter, 102X. No moons visible in the bright sky.

1827 MST: Viewed Mercury, low in the western sky, 102X.

1834 MST: Sunset. Time approximate due to clouds along the western horizon.

1838 MST: Viewed Jupiter, 102X. Three moons visible in the bright twilight sky.

1849 MST: Viewed Jupiter, 102X. All four Galilean Moons were now visible.

Clouds increasing from the south.

1859 MST: Wi-Fi ON.

Used SkySafari 7 Pro on the iPhone 15 Pro Max to GOTO Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. It was not yet visible in the bright twilight sky. The race was now on: would the comet become visible before clouds obscured it. The clouds were now at the Zenith by the Moon.

1913 MST: iPhone 15 Pro Max photo of clouds along the western horizon with Mercury near the center.


1916 MST: Viewed Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, 81X.

1917 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

Attached the LiDAR Cover on the iPhone and mounted the iPhone on the 2" 30mm eyepiece using the Accuview 3-Axis Smartphone Adapter.

1920 MST: StarLock ON.

1924 MST: iPhone afocal 81X image of Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, StarLock autoguided, NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 10000, 1sec, 1 minute, 1X lens).


1927 MST: StarLock OFF.

1929 MST: Viewed Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, 12x50 binoculars. It was briefly visible just before clouds covered it.

1935 MST: Viewed the Moon, 81X.

1937 MST: Mounted the iPhone for this afocal 81X image of the Moon taken with NightCap Camera (ISO 55, 1/1800sec, 1X lens).


With clouds now in much of the sky, I took a final look at the Moon, 102X.

1942 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 16 March 2024, 1950 MST
Temperature: 48°F
Session Length: 1h 51m
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

Check this out: Museum eclipse event highlighting Seymour natives.

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