Jul 302017
 

I was the first one to arrive for the star party on Saturday night at Look Rock South.  It’s a beautiful view to the south looking into the Smokies.

 

We definitely had some clouds for the beginning of the night with some sucker holes now and then.  I was never able to get off a 20 minute shot without the clouds rushing in within 10 minutes…

But things finally started to clear up and the Milky Way really started to pop out.

Emission Nebula NGC 6820 or Sharpless SH 2-86. AP130GTX with Field Flattener Custom 4″ OAG Apogee U16 CCD w/Baader Ha 7nm filter AP900GTO Mount 9x20min Exposures Image Scale 2.16 arcsec/pixel; reduced to 4.32 arcsec/pixel

Once it was cleared up I was off to take some test shots and validate the portable rig was ready for more serious projects.  NGC 6820 AKA Sharpless SH 2-86 and all the surrounding emission and dark nebula has always been a favorite of mine.  It’s located in Vulpecula not that far from M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.  It reminds me of a less popular M16 with it’s gas and dust pillars and dark globules.  Open cluster NGC 6823 resides in the midst of the nebula and is about 6,000 light years away.

 

Apr 022017
 

 

NGC 206 is the brightest star cloud in the arms of the Andromeda Galaxy visible to us here on Earth.  You often see M31 imaged wide field but there is a wealth of detail to be found in the star clouds and dust lanes that start to pop out with a little more focal length.  Taken late last year from my back yard.

NGC 206 in Andromeda
SVQ100, Atlas EQ-G, Apogee A694 CCD

Mar 262017
 

We’re in Galaxy Season and without the 10″ RC I’ve instead focused on the 5″ refractor with a small pixel size camera to squeeze out some detail.  Imaged from the backyard observatory in ~20.5 mag/arcsec^2 skies.

M81 – Bodes Nebula ~8 hours of exposure time. LRGB with AP130GTX, AP1200GTO, Apogee Ascent A694, Baader LRGB Filters, SX-OAG, Lodestar Guider.

 

M82 – The Cigar Approximately 7.5 Hours of exposure time. AP130GTX, AP1200GTO, Apogee Ascent A694, Baader LRGB, SX-OAG, Lodestar Audoguider

Nov 292016
 

Just getting around to publishing some pictures from the 2016 Black Forest Star Party at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania.  What a great stretch of weather for PA!  The nights weren’t the darkest or most transparent (SQM 21.4-21.5) nights I’ve had at CSSP but clear and a little murky was way better than the alternative after driving up from Knoxville TN.  Had a great time with some old friends and good to see some old club members too.

 

 

Had a few imaging problems related to dithering and settle time / settle criteria that made me lose a fair number of shots but I got two images which, I have to be honest, I’m not real pleased with.  They are however, more challenging objects, but would have come out better had the sky conditions been closer to the SQM 21.8 that I’ve seen before at CSSP.  But, we take whatever quality of clear sky we can get during a pre-planned star party!

ngc-7129

Reflection Nebula NGC 7129 Stellarvue SVQ100, Apogee A694 CCD, Atlas EQ-G Mount, Baader LRGB Filters Lum 9x10min: 1.5 hours RGB each 8x10min: 4 hours Total Time 5.5 hours

 

sh2-115v7

SH2-115 Atlas Eq-G Mount, Stellarvue SVQ100, Apogee Ascent A694 CCD, Baader narrowband filters Ha: 8x20min, O[III]: 10x20min, S[II]: 13x20min Total Exposure: 10.3 hours

Jun 262016
 

A couple months ago I was playing around with a green laser, typically used by amateur astronomers to point out celestial objects to others,  and decided to photograph it in use to see how it would show in a photograph.  Honestly, this wasn’t high on my list of things to do but I was clouded out so thought I’d have some fun.  This is a typical untracked exposure length of 15 seconds at f/4 with a 40mm focal length.  I aimed the green laser at Rigel and tried to hold it steady for the duration of the 15 second exposure.  So, this is worst case scenario for the laser being continuously on and pointed at a single object for the duration of the exposure.  That’s not to belittle the impact that green lasers have on us imagers; a quick pass through our image might not be obvious in the final image but lingering on an object for a while might be the difference between a good 20 minute exposure and one that’s going in the trash.  I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had an image that was obviously ruined by a laser but then again it’s hard to tell; I’ve had bad glare that may have resulted from errant green lasers playing over my equipment….

 

IMG_2439

Green laser aimed at Rigel

 

 

May 152016
 
M63 - Close Up

Galaxy M63 – Close Up

M63 - AP900GTO, Stellarvue SVQ-100, Apogee Ascent A694, Baader LRGB Filters, 4.5 Hour Total Exposure TIme.

M63 – AP900GTO, Stellarvue SVQ-100, Apogee Ascent A694, Baader LRGB Filters, 4.5 Hour Total Exposure Time.

 

 

M63 - Annotated

M63 – Annotated

Messier 63 (also known as M63, NGC 5055, or the Sunflower Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici consisting of a central disc surrounded by many short spiral arm segments. M63 is part of the M51 Group, a group of galaxies that also includes M51 (the ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’). M63 is an active galaxy with a LINER nucleus.[3]

M63 was discovered by Pierre Méchain on June 14, 1779.[4] The galaxy was then listed by Charles Messier as object 63 in the Messier Catalogue.

In the mid-19th century, Lord Rosse identified spiral structures within the galaxy, making this one of the first galaxies in which such structure was identified.[4]

In 1971, a supernova with a magnitude of 11.8 appeared in one of the arms of M63.

Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

Tennessee Spring Star Party at Dusk

Tennessee Spring Star Party at Dusk

Sat Night had some thin clouds moving through

Sat Night had some thin clouds moving through

 

Friday night was fantastic without a cloud to be seen.  Saturday night was less pristine with a lot of thin cloud moving through.  I thought we had some clearing later but a lot of the images from Sat night showed very inconsistent background values which leads me to believe we had thin stuff moving through all night.  Still, how many clear nights can you ask for?  It was a great TSSP and looking forward to the Fall Star Party.

SQM measurements topped out around 21.3 on Friday night and 21.4 on Saturday night.

Apr 172016
 

While playing with the telescope setup this afternoon I thought I’d take a quick shot at the massive sunspot (AR2529) that everybody has been talking about lately.  I also grabbed a quick shot of sunspot AR2532 as well.

AR2529_20160417

Sunspot AR2529 AP130EDT f/8 at Prime Focus Baader Solar Film Lumenera Lu070 CCD Atlas EQ-G Tracking

AR2532_20160417

Sunspot AR2532 AP130EDT f/8 Baader Solar Film Lumenera Lu070 CCD

Apr 042016
 
Field_setup

The first arrivals setting up on the astronomy field

On April 1st through April 3rd Pickett State Park, a newly designated IDA Dark Sky Site, held its first Astronomy Weekend Star Party. We were clouded out Friday night but clouds on Saturday finally yielded to clear skies albeit with some very gusty winds until the wee hours of the morning.

Waiting for Clouds to Clear

Waiting for Clouds to Clear while Orion sets

MW_Rising

Early morning Milky Way rising over the astronomy field

Star Trails over the astronomy field

Star Trails over the astronomy field

Polar Region Star Trails

Polar Region Star Trails

Leo_Triplet2

The Leo Triplet – M65, M66, & NGC 3628
Stellarvue SVQ 100, Apogee Ascent A694, AP900GTO Mount, Exposure 4 hours, SQM 21.48

Rho

Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex stretching down to the Lagoon Nebula Canon 6D with 40mm f/4 ISO 1600 4min single exposure