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iPhone Zodiacal Light, Cassiopeia, M31 Galaxy;
D7000 DSLR Jupiter, NGC4151 Galaxy

Posted: 18 February 2015

Open: Tuesday, 17 February 2015, 1819 MST
Temperature: 70°F
Session: 784
Conditions: Clear

1826 MST: viewed Venus, then Mars, 83X. Both planets well inside the FOV of the Antares 7x50 finderscope. I then began preparing for piggyback astrophotography with the iPhone 5s mounted on the 8" LX200-ACF using the MX-1 Afocal Adapter in piggyback mode.

At 1855 MST, took this D7000 DSLR photo, f/11, 1/2sec, ISO 1600, FL 35mm of Venus and Mars (just above Venus):


1908 MST: the Zodiacal Light was becoming visible against the still bright twilight sky. 1914 MST: it was now much easier to see. Still some twilight remaining. 1923 MST: began final preps for iPhone photography of the Zodiacal Light using NightCap Pro.

The following two photos were taken using Light Boost, 1/2sec exposure, ISO 2000, and were 5 minutes in duration. The left photo was taken using Long Exposure; the right photo used Light Trails.

photo photo

Long Exposure captured the Zodiacal Light. Light Trails captured the airplane better than the Zodiacal Light. Venus and Mercury are clearly visible in both photos just above the horizon.

I then slewed the telescope towards my favorite constellation: Cassiopeia. This is a 5 minute piggyback NightCap Pro photo (Long Exposure, Light Boost, 1/2secc, ISO 2000):


M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) is visible in the above photo. I slewed to center it better for this 5 minute piggyback NightCap Pro photo (Long Exposure, Light Boost, 1/2secc, ISO 2000):

Mouseover or tap on image
Mouseover or tap on image for magnified inset

Simply amazing for a smartphone camera! NightCap Pro is an incredible app.

2011 MST: ended piggyback astrophotography. I then did some star tests for an upcoming book review. 2050 MST: completed the tests.

Did a focus test using the Bahtinov Mask on the star Regulus with the D7000 DSLR and eyepiece projection 222X. Then slewed to Jupiter. I could see a moon shadow (which was from Europa) transiting the planet on the camera live view screen, although seeing was not great. Did some HD video recordings at ISO 4000. This is a stack of 1297 frames using Keith's Image Stacker taken at 1/100sec, with Europa's shadow visible at the left:


2111 MST: ended Jupiter imaging. Viewed Jupiter, 83X. Europa's shadow was easy to see. Switched to 222X; seeing was not good enough for a good view but the shadow was visible.

2126 MST: slewed to NGC4151 (galaxy). It was currently too low in the sky for good viewing but it was faintly visible at 83X. I began setting up for prime focus imaging of NGC4151 using the off-axis guider. Did a focus test on Regulus with the Bahtinov Mask. I then did several framing test exposures of NGC4151 while looking for a suitable guide star. I couldn't find one. Repositioned the camera and found a faint guide star. I had to use averted vision to see the guide star in the illuminated reticle eyepiece during guiding. This is a guided 5 minute, ISO 6400, exposure:


Two other smaller galaxies are visible in the cropped image. NGC4156 is below and slightly left of NGC4151. UGC7188 is the fainter galaxy to the right of NGC4156. Its magnitude is +17.14.

2242 MST: ended imaging. Viewed NGC4151, 83X. It was easier to see now, but was still a "faint fuzzy blob".

2254 MST: viewed Jupiter, 83X. Europa transit had just ended; the moon was now visible just leaving the planet's limb. The shadow was still on the planet. The Great Red Spot was easily seen near the central meridian.

Close: Tuesday, 17 February 2015, 2307 MST
Temperature: 48°F

My review of the newly released ScopeBoss iOS app is now live. ScopeBoss is a full-featured AutoStar II app for your iPhone or iPad. Checkout the review for all that ScopeBoss can do. It is an amazing app.

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