Crescent Moon, Crescent Venus, Perseus DSOs
Posted: 4 December 2013
The sky continued to be cloudy until Tuesday, 3 December 2013. If you ever want to know what the weather is like at Cassiopeia Observatory, check my Live Webcam for a view of the sky (daylight hours) and some data. The Data link at the top of the observatory web site pages also provides a lot of useful weather (and other) information.
Prior to going to the observatory, I noticed that the crescent moon was visible through some clouds. This photograph was taken with the D7000 DSLR, f/5.3, 1/50sec, ISO 1600, 200mm:
This wider short (cropped), f/4.5, 1/30sec, ISO 1600, 70mm, shows the moon (with Earthshine visible) at the right with more clouds to the left:
As I approached the observatory a little later, I took this photo, f/4.5, 1/10sec, ISO 1600, 40mm, with Venus at the upper left and the crescent moon at the lower right:
The observatory was opened at 1818 MST, 59°F. As seen in the photos, the sky was partly cloudy. There was also a strong breeze at times. Beginning at 1825 MST, viewed Venus at 83X, 166X, 222X, and 444X. The doubled magnifications were with my new Tele Vue 2" 2X PowerMate. At 1835 MST, I handheld the D7000 DSLR over the 2" 9mm eyepiece + 2X PowerMate (444X) to get this afocal image (cropped), f/5.3, 1/60sec, ISO 1600, 70mm:
It accurately reflects the view of the crescent phase of Venus, low in the south western sky, as seen at 444X through the 8" LX200-ACF.
As I finished imaging Venus, clouds were approaching it. I then did some sky observing using my new Celestron Cometron 12x70 binoculars. Collimation was OK versus what I saw on my last use (as discussed in my review). Venus appeared elongated due to its phase. I then viewed M45 (the Pleiades) and M31 (Andromeda Galaxy); both were nice views.
At 1843 MST, I returned to the telescope and took a final look at Venus, 222X and 83X, as it lowered into a tree. It was good to be able to actually use my newly redesigned eyepiece tray. The tray worked well, as expected.
The wind was getting stronger. Since the sky was currently clear around the constellation of Perseus, I decided to observe some Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) in Perseus, 83X. I enabled High Precision on the AutoStar and first viewed the faint galaxy NGC1275 at 1850 MST. I then turned HP off and did a guided tour of some other DSOs in Perseus, 83X: M76 (Little Dumbbell Nebula), NGC869 and NGC884 (open star clusters, Double Cluster), M34 (open cluster), NGC1245 (open cluster), NGC1342 (open cluster), IC348 (diffuse nebula), NGC1499 (California Nebula), and NGC1528 (open cluster).
After completing my DSO tour, the wind was getting stronger and clouds were becoming more a concern, so I decided to end this session. But it was good to be back at the telescope after a long absence due to weather. Another storm is approaching so it will be awhile before I get back to observatory again.
The observatory was closed at 1922 MST, 55°F.
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