D7000 Imaging: Green Flash, Zodiacal Light,
M95 Galaxy Supernova, M96 Galaxy
Posted: 21 March 2012
After my previous report on Friday, 16 March, clouds began appearing mid-day. The forecasts said they would not appear until Saturday, as a big winter storm approached. Guess the storm didn't get the memo. The storm itself arrived on Sunday, 18 March, with rain initially, that quickly turned to snow as the temperature rapidly dropped. See my Live Webcam time-lapse video. Monday morning, 19 March, started with several periods of graupel, then clearing, then snow, then clearing, and then snow again, then clearing. Wild weather day. The Live Webcam time-lapse video for 19 March shows it all. Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, started out clear but mid-day, clouds began appearing. However, by late afternoon they were mostly gone. During the day I went to the observatory to clean the snow and ice off of the dome.
The observatory was opened Tuesday, 20 March 2012, at 1807 MST, 65°F. I delayed using the 8" telescope since I was going to make another attempt at capturing the "Green Flash" at sunset. As I began to set up the D7000 DSLR for video recording the setting sun, the neighbor to the north turned on his overly bright, horizontally aimed, nuisance floodlights:
The lights were turned on about 10 minutes before sunset. They were turned off a few minutes after sunset, but went on and off several times before staying off for the night at 1912 MST.
I video recorded the setting sun at Auto, ISO 1600. Here are three frames from the video, cropped; the last one captured the "Green Flash" (barely):
I also captured some distant mountain shadows after sunset, as seen in this cropped photo, f/18, 1/1000sec, ISO 1600:
At 1850 MST, I powered on the 8" LX200-ACF and viewed Jupiter, then Venus, at 77X, 133X, and 206X. The four Galilean Moons of Jupiter were visible and the Great Red Spot was just rotating into view. Venus showed a slightly less than "half phase". As I reported several nights ago, it appears that Jupiter's North Equatorial Belt (NEB) is fading. At 1950 MST, I took a last look at Jupiter and then went to Mars, 133X. Seeing was not good; the North Polar Cap and a dark surface area were faintly visible.
At 1955 MST, I noticed that the Zodiacal Light was now visible and I began taking some sky photographs with the D7000 on the photographic tripod. This reduced scale, f/4, 1min, ISO 800, 18mm, photo shows the constellation of Taurus (upper left), the Pleiades (above center), Venus (center), Jupiter (just below and left of Venus), and the Zodiacal Light (bottom middle, up through the planets, and almost to Taurus):
I also took this f/4, 30sec, ISO 800, 18mm, photo of Orion (left), Taurus (just right of center), the Pleiades (right of Taurus), Venus (bright object at bottom right), and Jupiter (below Venus):
At 2016 MST, I began preparing the D7000 DSLR for DSO imaging using the Off-Axis Guider. My main target for the night was the recenty discovered supernova in M95, now confirmed and designated "SN 2012aw". At 2022 MST, I slewed the telescope to M95 and at 77X, the supernova was easily seen close to the visible portion of the galaxy. I then went to M96, another nice galaxy in the constellation of Leo. I would image both this night. Went to Regulus to do a focus test image with the Bahtinov Mask. I then did two framing test exposures of M95 and located a good guide star. Beginning at 2042 MST, I did 5 and 10 minute, guided, ISO 6400, exposures. This is the 10 minute exposure, slightly cropped; Supernova SN 2012aw is the bright star that the arrow points too.
Then it was to M96; did two framing test exposures and found a good guide star. This is a guided, 5 minute, ISO 6400, slightly cropped, image:
I ended imaging at 2116 MST. I took another look at M96 and then went back to M95. Using 133X, the bright star was visible and definitely confirmed as the supernova using a post-discovery image I found online.
I took a final look at Mars, 133X. Tried using 206X but seeing was not good enough.
Closed the observatory at 2150 MST, 41°F.
Continuing the test started on the previous report, I have implemented the Livefyre commenting system. You can leave comments below, or you can Email Me. If you use the Livefyre Comments section, please let me know of any problems using it. Thanks.
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