Imaging: Saturn, 5 Saturn Moons, and M57 (Ring Nebula)
Posted: 14 June 2012
Opened the observatory Wednesday, 13 June, at 1927 MST, 94°F. Sky was clear and there was no wind. At 1934 MST, viewed Mercury, low in the west, with the 8" LX200-ACF, 77X and 206X. Seeing was not good but the gibbous phase was visible at 206X. At 1943 MST, viewed Saturn, 77X and 364X. Cassini Division was very sharp and visible around much of Ring. At 1954 MST, with 133X, four moons were visible against a bright sky.
I then set up for eyepiece projection, 160X, with the D7000 DSLR. Did a focus test on Spica with the Bahtinov Mask. Did both single exposure and HD video recordings. This is a stack of 949 frames from a HD video recording, 1/60sec, ISO 3200:
This image is a combination of a 1 second, ISO 1600, exposure of Saturn, and a 4 second, ISO 1600, exposure to show five moons (left-to-right: Rhea, Dione, Titan, Enceladus, and Tethys):
This display from the Sky and Telescope web site will help you identify the moons:
Beginning at 2048 MST, I did some viewing of M57, the Ring Nebula, 77X and 133X. At 206X with averted vision, I could see some subtle details in the ring structure. At 2108 MST, viewed M56, a small dense globular cluster in Lyra, 77X and 133X. Then viewed Epsilon Lyrae, the "Double-Double Star". The two components were easily resolved at 133X and 206X, but were not quite resolved at 77X (Lyra was still low in the eastern sky). Then viewed the double star Albireo, 77X, always a pretty sight.
Beginning at 2122 MST, returned to M57 for some prime focus imaging. Used Vega for a focus test and then tried capturing M57 using HD video, 1/30sec, ISO 6400. No success. I then did some unguided exposures of M57 at prime focus. This is a cropped, 60 second, ISO 1600, exposure:
I ended imaging at 2209 MST. At 2223 MST, viewed NGC6960, the Veil Nebula, 77X. I then did a tour of DSOs in Scorpius: M80 (globular cluster), M4 (globular cluster), NGC6124 (open cluster), NGC6231 (open cluster), NGC6302 (Bug Nebula, planetary nebula), M6 (Butterfly Cluster, open cluster), and M7 (open cluster). I then viewed the Milky Way galactic center, 77X, but nothing impressive was visible.
I slewed to Pluto at 2249 MST, and used SkySafari 3 Pro on the iPhone to help identify stars in the eyepiece (77X) field-of-view. I then used 133X to view Pluto with averted vision.
Closed the observatory at 2335 MST, 74°F. Only saw one Kissing Bug this night and it was terminated.
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