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New Local POD; ETX-125 Observer "First Light";
Ghost of Jupiter Nebula

Posted: 14 May 2017

Sunday, 7 May 2017, dawned partly cloudy and calm. Mid-morning I went to the observatory and began unboxing the newly received Meade ETX-125 Observer Telescope. The sky became mostly cloudy mid-morning and the wind picked up, wiping out my hopes of "First Light" for the ETX-125 that night. Clouds and wind continued on Monday, 8 May. Even had some rain (0.1"). Clouds and rain (0.2") continued on Tuesday, 9 May. Wednesday, 10 May, was mostly cloudy.

Thursday, 11 May, dawned clear. During the day I helped another Oracle amateur astronomer set up his new SkyShed POD observatory. We had originally planned this for Tuesday but the rain prevented it. Unfortunately, we didn't quite finish the assembly on Thursday. I was pooped by the end of the day so did not open my observatory that might. We did the final work on Friday morning, 12 May:



Jim is on the right and I'm on the left. I have now set up three PODs!

Friday evening was cloudy, which gave me more time to recover from setting up Jim's POD. Saturday, 13 May, the sky was clear, although the wind picked up mid-afternoon.

Open: Saturday, 13 May 2017, 1820 MST
Temperature: 94°F
Session: 1111
Conditions: Clear, windy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
ETX-125 Observer
1.25" 26mm eyepiece
1.25" 9.7mm eyepiece

iPhone 6s Plus
D7200 DSLR

I delayed opening the observatory dome due to the strong wind that was blowing. I set up the ETX-125 Observer telescope on the observatory patio for later use:


1851 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF. 1853 MST: Wi-Fi ON. Did some tests of the iOS app ScopeBoss for the developer. 1858 MST: Wi-Fi OFF. Tests ended.

1909 MST: the wind had calmed down a little bit. Dome opened.

1913 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X. The Great Red Spot was visible. 1916 MST: the four Galilean Moons were now visible, 102X.

1918 MST: sunset.

1949 MST: ETX-125 Observer ON. Went through all the initial power-on setups and alignments. Viewed Jupiter, M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), and the Leo Galaxy Triplet. "First Light" with the ETX-125 Observer telescope was successful. I will post a review of this new model ETX after I spend some more time with the telescope. As a teaser from my review, this is an image of Jupiter with the Great Red Spot captured using the iPhone 6s Plus, afocal 196X:


2045 MST: ETX-125 Observer OFF.

2050 MST: Returned to the 12" LX600 telescope. Viewed NGC3242 (Ghost of Jupiter planetary nebula), 102X. Nice view. Began setting up to image it. Mounted the D7200 DSLR at prime focus, focused on the star Regulus using the Bahtinov Mask, locked the primary mirror, and SYNCed the AutoStar on Regulus. Returned to NGC3242; it was visible in the camera viewfinder.

2103 MST: StarLock ON. Did some imaging of NGC3242. This is a 10 second, ISO1600, White Balance 3570K, autoguided image (full-frame):


Unfortunately, the focus slightly shifted at some point. Will re-image on a future session. Seeing was pretty bad (strong breezes were still blowing). I gave up on additional imaging this session. 2109 MST: StarLock OFF.

Did some Deep Sky Object (DSO) observing, 102X, in preparation for DSO imaging on a future session. Viewed the galaxies M89, M90, M83, and M102, and the globular clusters M68 and M5. All were good views.

SYNCed the AutoStar on Arcturus and then viewed Jupiter, 102X, as my last object for the night.

2133 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Saturday, 13 May 2017, 2145 MST
Temperature: 68°F
Session Length: 3h 25m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

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