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Venus, Sunrise at Lunar Crater Walther,
Supernova 2018pv

Posted: 23 February 2018

Wednesday, 21 February 2018, was cloudy. Also on Wednesday I saw this on the Meade LX600 product page:


The photo they used (with my approval) was of the 12" LX600 outside of my observatory, as seen in my report from 18 February 2016.

Thursday morning, 22 February, was mostly clear. I tried to see the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched from California shortly after sunrise here. Unfortunately the sky was too bright and nothing was seen. So for now, the only two SpaceX rockets I've seen from Oracle were on 22 December 2017 (after sunset launch) and 6 February 2018 (Falcon Heavy nighttime upper stage burn).

Open: Thursday, 22 February 2018, 1815 MST
Temperature: 60°F
Session: 1203
Conditions: Clear

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

iPhone 8 Plus

1816 MST: sunset at Cassiopeia Observatory.

1820 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1824 MST: viewed the planet Venus, very low in the west, 102X and 271X.

The effects of atmospheric refraction were very evident, as seen in this handheld iPhone 8 Plus afocal 271X photo taken with the iOS app NightCap Camera (ISO 22, 1/300sec):


1835 MST: slewed to the near First Quarter Moon and viewed it using 102X. Then did some lunar observing at 271X. The lunar crater Walther on the terminator was a nice sight with a long shadow crossing the crater floor.

I then began setting up to image the Moon using the D850 DSLR. The camera was mounted at prime focus of the 12" telescope for this image (1/320sec, ISO 400):


Added the 2X PowerMate and took these photos of the Moon (1/320sec, 1/250sec, 1/250sec, ISO 1600):


1909 MST: removed the DSLR. Did some lunar observing, 542X.

1915 MST: set the tracking rate to Lunar (which I rarely use) and began watching sunrise at the crater Walther, 542X.

I took two handheld iPhone afocal 542X photos of the crater Walther (using NightCap Camera), one at 1920 MST and the second (seen below) at 2020 MST.


Seeing was not ideal. The two photos were combined for this animation showing the long mountain shadow get shorter in one hour as the sun rose over the crater:


2025 MST: slewed the telescope to the galaxy NGC3941. Supernova 2018pv had recently appeared in this galaxy. The galaxy was low in the northeastern sky at this time. Using a magnification of 102X it was not obvious that I could see the supernova close the galaxy's nucleus.

2030 MST: took a warm-up break with the temperature down to 42°F.

2055 MST: returned to the observatory.

Viewed NGC3941, 271X. Using averted vision the galaxy nucleus looked double. So I was probably seeing supernova SN2018pv (about Mag. +12).

SYNCed the AutoStar on NGC3941. Slewed the telescope to the star Regulus, mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus, and focused. Slewed back to NGC3941.

2105 MST: StarLock ON. Did StarLock autoguided 1, 5, and 3 minute exposures (ISO 5000 and ISO 6400). The sky was too bright due to the Moon and the closeness of the supernova to the galaxy nucleus for the longer exposures. This is the 1 minute, ISO 6400, exposure (cropped), with the supernova marked:


2117 MST: StarLock OFF. Removed the camera.

2127 MST: viewed NGC3941, 102X. With the galaxy now higher in the sky I could see the supernova separated from the nucleus.

2129 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Thursday, 22 February 2018, 2137 MST
Temperature: 39°F
Session Length: 3h 22m
Conditions: Clear

Last month there were two nights when some 4th grade students visited Cassiopeia Observatory. Here's the local newspaper article about their visit: Mountain Vista fourth graders viewing the night skies.

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