Cloudy winter nights have inspired a second look back at some fun summer targets. Here’s NGC 6871 in Cygnus.
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!
Moved the 68″ tall pier to the observatory deck this afternoon. Progress!
I didn’t get the pier into place until after dark so no pictures. It was a chore moving the thing since it’s quite heavy and I didn’t have any help but with the tractor I was able to drag it around and lower it onto the bolts after an hour….
The site has been cleared, I think I dug out 70+ stumps with the backhoe, 700 feet of electric cable buried, and almost 4,000 lbs of concrete dry mix poured for footers and the telescope pier. The deck is starting to go up and hopefully the 8″ Exploradome will be in place before the new year. After two years it’s hard to believe that I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel!
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….
Site clearing is now well underway with a backhoe rental. Most of the site is now cleared and a new, more drive-able, road is in place to get to the site. Lots of clean up and grading to do but we’re getting there.
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.
In 1971, a supernova with a magnitude of 11.8 appeared in one of the arms of M63.
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.
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.