Sep 072015
 

This was my first visit to Fall Creek Falls for the 2015 Tennessee Fall Star Gaze.  It’s a casual get together held at a clearing within walking distance from the Inn.  The site is reasonably dark measuring 21.42+ on Friday and 21.31 on Saturday after some thundershowers upped the humidity level.  Both nights were good so long as you were prepared for dew.

I spent both nights gathering data on SH2-155; the Cave Nebula.  It’s a fairly dark object and I’d like more than the 4.5 hours of exposure time I got on it but a couple technical issues coupled with the early moon rise limited my time….

SH2-155 AP130EDT f/8 reduced to f/6 AP900GTO3 Mount Apogee Ascent A694 CCD 9x10min Lum 7x10min Red 6x10min Green 5x10min Blue

SH2-155
AP130EDT f/8 reduced to f/6
AP900GTO3 Mount
Apogee Ascent A694 CCD
9x10min Lum
7x10min Red
6x10min Green
5x10min Blue

 

SH2-155 Annotated

SH2-155 Annotated

S 155, also known as the Cave Nebula, Sh2-155 or Caldwell 9, is a dim and very diffuse bright nebula within a larger nebula complex containing emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity. It is located in the constellation Cepheus.

Visually it is a difficult object, but with adequate exposure, makes a striking image. The nebula gets its name Cave Nebula from the dark lane at the eastern side abutting the brightest curve of emission nebulosity which gives the appearance of a deep cave when seen through a telescope visually.

Information Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Fall Creek Falls Milkyway Pano Canon 6D, 17-40mm @ 17mm f/4, 20sec

Fall Creek Falls Milky Way Pano
Canon 6D, 17-40mm @ 17mm f/4, 20sec

This was my first time to Fall Creek Falls and I was not sure what to expect in terms of amenities.  For those of you considering going:  Restrooms are a 1000+ ft walk from the site.  There are no restrooms at the field, nor is there any power, water, etc.  The only things available at the site are trashcans.  The Inn, as I mentioned before, offers restrooms, along with buffet meals, vending machines, and accommodations on the lake.

 

Aug 112015
 

It ended up being a gorgeous night at Norris.  The MW was clearly visible and seeing looked reasonably good just based on the naked eye twinkle criteria.

I was able to gather a paltry 3x20min of O[III] and 2x20min of S[II] data on M8 (The Lagoon Nebula) to complete a tricolor Hubble Pallet image before it moved behind a tree….

M8_v2

M8 – The Lagoon Nebula SVQ100, Apogee A694, Atlas EQG. Resolution: 1.61 arcsec/pixel FWHM of Raw Frames: 2.6 arcsec Exposure: Ha 8x20min, O[III] 3x20min, S[II] 2x20min

Jul 262015
 

The night started off hazy with a big halo around the 68.5% illuminated waxing moon.  I wasn’t that optimistic about the high thin stuff clearing out so I threw the Lumenera monochrome high frame rate planetary camera on the scope instead of the usual deep sky camera and trained the scope on the moon for the public.  I added a wireless game-pad so they could drive the mount around and check out different parts of the moon on their own and hopefully add to their enjoyment.  After most of the guests had left I took a few videos and stacked them.  Unfortunately, the laptop is not setup for planetary imaging; hard drive space is very limited on the small SSD and I had to move each AVI to a flash drive as I took them…

Stellarvue SVQ100 & TV 5X Powermate with Lumenera Lu070 ccd.  30 seconds at 60 fps

Stellarvue SVQ100 & TV 5X Powermate with Lumenera Lu070 ccd. 30 seconds at 60 fps

AS_f100_Multi_Drizzle15_Moon_224106_g3_b3_ap62_wavelet

Stellarvue SVQ100 & TV 5X Powermate with Lumenera Lu070 ccd. 30 seconds at 60 fps

Luckily, it cleared up and the high thin stuff dissipated.  I grabbed the deep sky camera and got to work on M16, The Eagle Nebuka, in Sagittarius.

M16 - The Eagle Nebula Taken with a Stellarvue SVQ100, Apogee Ascent A694, Atlas EQ-G Mount, Baader 7nm Ha Filter.  Exposure time 8x20min.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula
Taken with a Stellarvue SVQ100, Apogee Ascent A694, Atlas EQ-G Mount, Baader 7nm Ha Filter. Exposure time 8x20min.

 

Jan 252015
 
IMG_0196_ABE_Annotated

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 Annotated 1/24/2015 from Norris Lake, TN. Canon 6D, 70mm f/2.8, 6 seconds @ ISO 3200

 

IMG_0196_ABE

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, 1/24/2015 from Norris Lake, TN Canon 6D, 70mm f/2.8, 6 seconds @ ISO 3200

 

IMG_0193

Star Party with Knox Observers, ORION, and SMAS members. 1/24/2015, from Norris Lake, TN.  Looking towards Orion rising in the East.

 

Aug 272014
 
Cherry Springs panorama from the northern side of the overnight astronomy field

Cherry Springs panorama from the northern side of the overnight astronomy field

 

Cherry Springs

Cherry Springs

Monday night was my first visit to a dark site; or at least my first visit since catching the astronomy bug.  Upon arriving at Cherry Springs after the 4 hour drive I noticed there were quite a few people  still hanging around after the Black Forest Star Party which was held over the weekend.  According to some of the other amateur astronomers, the weekend star party was a bust.

We found a vacant spot to setup our tents right next to one of the RV style power outlet posts scattered throughout the observing fields.  I can’t stress how wonderful it is to have power provided  on the field for the astrophotographically inclined!

The grounds were well kept and the main bathrooms much nicer than expected.  The surrounding area is gorgeous for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

 

Untracked 30 Second Exposure

Untracked 30 Second Exposure

As nice as the park was, the show obviously didn’t start until the sun went down.  The Milky Way was more prominent before astronomical twilight than I’m used to seeing here in the PGH region after astronomical twilight; even at the Greene County site.  By 10:00pm it was gorgeous and I snapped a quick 3o second shot on a tripod and marveled that the dark lanes extending out from the Rho Ophiuchi / Antares region were clearly visible in a short exposure so close to the horizon.

Seeing the sky like this puts everything in a different perspective.

Yes, it’s depressing being back in light polluted Pittsburgh but I’m really glad I finally made it out to Cherry Springs after all this time.

I had plans to shoot some other objects but due to poor planning and setup of my tent I couldn’t take some of the deep southern objects I was hoping for.  I settled for 5.5 hours of exposure time on NGC 7023:  The Iris Nebula.  I have shot the Iris before but was never totally happy.  I’m still not quite satisfied but it’s certainly better than what I’ve gotten around here.

4 minute Exposure Canon 6D 200mm f/2.8 Tracking, Unguided

4 minute Exposure
Canon 6D
200mm f/2.8
Tracking, Unguided

NGC-7023-LRGB-Combine-V2

NGC 7023 Atlas EQ-G Mount Stellarvue SVQ100 – 100mm f/5.8 Quadruplet Apogee Ascent A694 CCD 5.5 Hours Total LRGB Exposure

 

The Iris Nebula, also NGC 7023 and Caldwell 4, is a bright reflection nebula and Caldwell object in the constellation Cepheus. NGC 7023 is actually the cluster within the nebula, LBN 487, and the nebula is lit by a magnitude +7 star, SAO 19158.[1] It shines at magnitude +6.8. It is located near the Mira-type variable star T Cephei, and near the bright magnitude +3.23 variable star Beta Cephei (Alphirk). It lies 1,300 light-years away and is six light-years across.[2]

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Jun 152014
 

The layout of the pads, sidewalks, and privy location at Wagman Observatory has been completed and drawn out on the grass.

 

Sep 152013
 

It was a beautiful night, chilly but not too cold, for a star party.