Fading Mercury, Nearly Full Moon
Posted: 25 February 2013
Sunday, 24 February 2013, had partly cloudy skies during the day with wind gusts to nearly 30 MPH. As sunset approached, the wind calmed down somewhat and the skies were clearer, so I decided to go to the observatory. The observatory was opened at 1754 MST, 51°F. A few minutes before sunset I took this self-portrait using the iPhone 4:
At 1812 MST, five minutes before sunset, I managed to view Mercury in the 8" telescope at 77X. It was very faint, with low contrast against the still bright sky. Seeing was not good. At 1822 MST, viewed Mercury, 222X. The crescent phase was visible, but the poor seeing and the planet's dimness made imaging impossible.
By 1824 MST, the nearly Full Moon had risen over the hill to the east. I viewed it using 77X at 1826 MST. A very slight terminator was visible less than one day before precisely full. Added the focal reducer and visual back to the 8" LX200-ACF and mounted the D7000 DSLR. I then began waiting for the moon to rise higher.
I took this (cropped) photo of the moon, 1/500sec, ISO 100:
The temperature had dropped rapidly and I ran out of hot chocolate, so I began closing up.
The observatory was closed at 1915 MST, 37°F.
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