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D850 DSLR & SkyTracker Pro: Orion Nebula;
iPhone 8 Plus: Messier Catalog Objects

Posted: 7 March 2018

Sunday, 4 March 2018, was clear until late afternoon. Then thin clouds appeared in the west and rapidly moved in, mostly obscuring the Venus-Mercury pairing in the western sky. Glad I was able to photograph them the previous evening when they were at their minimum separation. But I did get some D850 DSLR photos Sunday evening:

f/2.8, 1/100sec, ISO 400, FL 36mm (cropped)
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f/2.8, 1/100sec, ISO 400, FL 70mm (cropped)
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The sky was clear most of the day Monday, 5 March, but then clouded up as sunset approached. Tuesday, 6 March, dawned cloudy, but was mostly clear by sunset.

Open: Tuesday, 6 March 2018, 1817 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session: 1211
Conditions: Mostly Clear

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
SkyTracker Pro

iPhone 8 Plus

I first set up the D850 DSLR + Tamron f/2.8 24-70mm lens on the SkyTracker Pro on the observatory patio:


The ScopeStuff Red Dot Finder and Vello Wireless ShutterBoss III were attached to the D850.

1827 MST: sunset.

1829 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1832 MST: viewed Mercury, then Venus, 102X.

1850 MST: viewed Venus and Mercury, 12x50 binoculars. Both planets were still in the same field-of-view although now further apart after their close conjunction on Saturday, 3 March.

1903 MST: took this handheld iPhone 8 Plus photo of the western sky with Venus and Mercury, the D850, and the observatory (NightCap Camera iOS app):

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Did a rough polar alignment of the SkyTracker Pro. Then began waiting for the sky to get darker.

1928 MST: polar aligned the SkyTracker Pro. Continued waiting for the end of Astronomical Twilight (1947 MST).

1950 MST: began imaging the constellation of Orion using the D850 DSLR, f/2.8, FL 70mm, at various exposure settings. Tracking was provided by the SkyTracker Pro. This is a 2 minute, ISO 6400 exposure showing Barnard's Loop, the Flame Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, the Running Man Nebula, the Great Orion Nebula, and the Witch Head Nebula:

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2020 MST: ended DSLR imaging. Returned to the 12" telescope. Viewed M95 (galaxy), 102X and 81X. Began setting up to image some Messier Catalog objects with the iPhone 8 Plus using the iOS app NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 1 minute exposures).

2029 MST: StarLock ON.

M95 (galaxy)

M96 (galaxy)

M97 (Owl Nebula)

M108 (galaxy)

M105, NGC3371, and NGC3373 (galaxies)
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M65 (galaxy)

M66 (galaxy)

2106 MST: StarLock OFF. Ended iPhone imaging.

Viewed the Leo Triplet of Galaxies (M65, M66, NGC3628 Sarah's Galaxy), 81X and 102X.

2116 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Tuesday, 6 March 2018, 2127 MST
Temperature: 56°F
Session Length: 3h 10m
Conditions: Clear

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