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iPhone imaging: Venus, Moon;
Moonset near Picacho Peak

Posted: 13 March 2017

Open: Sunday, 12 March 2017, 1700 MST
Temperature: 95°F
Session: 1084
Conditions: Mostly clear, breezy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece

iPhone 6s Plus

1706 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1708 MST: viewed Venus, 102X and 271X.

Mounted the iPhone 6s Plus on the 12" telescope using the Levenhuk adapter and did some video recordings, afocal 271X. One of the Variable Polarizer filters was used to reduce the brightness of the planet's crescent phase. This is a stack of 312 video frames taken with the iOS app NightCap Pro (ISO 25, 1/2308sec, 10 seconds):


Next, I did a Facebook live video stream showing Venus through the telescope with the iPhone, afocal 271X. The video is available at Facebook. I had previously done live video streaming from the telescope using the Twitter Periscope app, but this was my first Facebook live video. Unfortunately, as is the case with the Periscope app, the Facebook app does not allow for manual exposure adjustments. I used the Variable Polarizer Filter (VPF, both filters) to try to reduce the planet's brightness but was only moderately successful.

1753 MST: after ending the live show, did some Venus observing, 271X + VPF. Pretty good view with the polarization nearly full.

1808 MST: Venus was now faintly visible to the naked eye (if you knew where to look in the sky). 1820 MST: viewed Venus using the Vortex 12x50 binoculars. The crescent phase was easily seen in the binoculars. The breezes had calmed down now.

1831 MST: sunset. Did more Venus observing, 271X and 81X.

1910 MST: viewed the planet Mars, 81X. Then SYNCed the AutoStar on the star Betelgeuse.

1914 MST: the eastern sky was beginning to brighten from the rising near Full Moon.

1917 MST: viewed M42 (Great Orion Nebula), 81X. The Trapezium was nicely visible, along with some nebulosity, against the still twilight sky.

1939 MST: the Moon began appearing over the hill to the east of the observatory. Watched the Moonrise in the 12" telescope, 81X. A slight terminator was visible with the Moon 12 hours after precisely Full.

Using the clip-on 8X telephoto lens, took this handheld photo of the Moon with the iPhone 6s Plus and the app NightCap Pro (ISO 25, 1/350sec):


The inset shows a magnified version from the same photo. The lines through the Moon are powerlines at the top of the hill.

Back at the 12" telescope I took this handheld iPhone photo of the Moon, still very low in the sky, afocal 81X, NightCap Pro (ISO 25, 1/2000sec):


1955 MST: viewed the Moon, 102X.

1955 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Sunday, 12 March 2017, 2013 MST
Temperature: 67°F
Session Length: 3h 13m
Conditions: Mostly clear

I used the iOS app PhotoPills to determine when the Moon would set near Picacho Peak (31 miles west of Cassiopeia Observatory). Turned out that would be Monday morning, 13 March:


I took these photos of the setting Moon near Picacho Peak using the D7200 DSLR and 150-600mm lens at FL 350mm:



Better conditions were on the previous morning with the Full Moon setting directly behind Picacho Peak at sunrise. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast then. I will try again on a future date when PhotoPills shows appropriate conditions.

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