D7000 Imaging: NGC2683, NGC2970, NGC2964,
NGC3226, NGC3227, M109, NGC2371, Saturn
Posted: 15 March 2012
The observatory was opened Wednesday, 14 March 2012, at 1808 MST, 82°F. Everything was up and running at 1812 MST and I viewed Venus, 77X. At 1823 MST, viewed Jupiter, 77X and 133X. Two moons were visible: Europa and Ganymede. A few minutes later picked up Callisto a little further away from the planet. I then began a Mercury search. I finally saw it in the finderscope at 1859 MST. Very difficult to see now. Then observed Mercury in the 8" LX200-ACF at 77X. Tried 206X but it was too low. Using 133X, a nice crescent phase was visible. At 1904 MST, returned to Venus, then Jupiter, 133X.
I next began preparations for the night's DSO imaging with the D7000 DSLR. At 1910 MST, the camera was ready with the Off-Axis Guider attached. I slewed to NGC2683 (galaxy) and began waiting for twilight to end. At 1919 MST, the galaxy was faintly visible at 77X. At 1924 MST, I slewed to Pollux, mounted the camera at prime focus, attached the Bahtinov Mask, and did a focus test exposure. I then went back to NGC2683 and found a faint guide star in the illuminated reticle eyepiece. I did some framing test exposures. While waiting for the sky to get a little darker, I discovered why the guide star was faint; I had forgotten to remove the Mask! (Yep, happens to all of us at some time.) At 1950 MST, I began imaging. All of the exposures below are guided, cropped, 5 minutes, ISO 6400.
NGC2968, NGC2970, and NGC2964 (left to right)
NGC3226 (left) and NGC3227 (right)
At 2044 MST, I took a break from imaging and began looking for Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) with 7x50 binoculars. It was easily seen as a large faint fuzzy disk.
At 2117 MST, I resumed DSO imaging with NGC2371 (a very faint planetary nebula).
Ended DSO imaging at 2158 MST. I viewed NGC2371 at 77X, 206X, and 133X. The best view of this faint planetary nebula was at 133X.
Then viewed Mars, 133X, 206X, and 364X, all of which provided nice views of the planet. Added the moon filter to the 5.5mm (364X) eyepiece for an even better view. The North Polar Cap and some dark surface areas were visible.
Beginning at 2215 MST, I observed several DSOs at 77X:
NGC5248 - spiral galaxy, faint but fairly large in the eyepiece (added to imaging list for a future session)
M44 - open cluster
M67 - open cluster
NGC2775 - spiral galaxy, small and faint (previously imaged)
At 2242 MST, I began observing Saturn, which had just risen above a tree. Tried 206X but Saturn was too low in the sky for good viewing. Seeing was better by 2300 MST; Cassini Division and a cloud belt easily seen at 206X. Switched to 133X; the moons Titan, Rhea, and Dione were visible. Tried using 364X but seeing was not good enough for a sharp view of the planet. I began imaging Saturn at prime focus + 3X TeleXtender at 2337 MST. I did some video test recordings at 1/200sec, ISO 12800 and ISO 25600. They did not stack well. I did some "Hat Trick" imaging at various ISO settings. This is a cropped image, ISO 1000:
I then did some more Saturn observing, 206X. Picked up the moon Tethys.
My last activity for the night was to observe several galaxies in Virgo, 77X. I added 9 of 13 galaxies observed to the imaging list for future sessions (others previously imaged). Observed: NGC4261, M61, M84, M86, M49, M87, M89, M90, M58, M104 (Sombrero Galaxy, M59, M60, and NGC4697.
The observatory was closed at 0050 MST, 57°F. A good 6 hour 42 minute session.
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