I’ve cut a few more trees and have updated the horizon survey accordingly. The local light domes for Clinton and Oak Ridge are easily visible in the East and South.
Earlier this year (2015) Pickett / Pogue State Park was named a Silver Tier IDA dark site. I haven’t made it up for a night of astrophotography yet but have been wanting to visit the area and scope it out before lugging all the equipment up there for the first time. On Sunday my wife, the dogs, and I made a visit up to hike the short trail to the Pogue Canyon Overlook. The trail head is connected to the parking lot that adjoins the astronomy field at the Pogue SNA. First off, finding the place wasn’t difficult BUT google maps does not have current satellite imagery from there so I couldn’t pinpoint it easily. The address given didn’t seem to match up with anything in the imagery. So, to make it a little easier, here is an image of the location:
I’ve been interested in Pickett / Pogue for a while since it appears to be one of the darkest places in Tennessee and is located only 1:40 from my home. Here are a few light pollution maps showing where it is in relationship to sources of light pollution:
I also wanted to share a few photos from the site to show you all what to expect when you arrive at the site:
A little bit of side information that might be of interest as it contains SQM measurements, photos, and upcoming event information:
Don’t forget, the Fall Star Gaze is happening 9/19/2015 at this location! I’d love to see you there but I’m tied up and can’t make it. Hope to make it out under the stars there another time.
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….
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.
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.
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….
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…
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.
The Lagoon Nebula was discovered by Giovanni Hodierna before 1654 and is one of only two star-forming nebulae faintly visible to the naked eye from mid-northern latitudes. Seen with binoculars, it appears as a distinct oval cloudlike patch with a definite core. In the foreground is the open cluster NGC 6530.
Conditions were decent up until some clouds rolled in around 3:00am. There was a lot of lightning flashing to the north so I packed up a little early and headed back to the house. SQM measurements started around 20.2 but improved to 20.4 with a max of 20.5 around 1:00am.
The light pollution domes seen in the image are Oak Ridge to the south west (right side) and Clinton to the east/south east (left side).
Last year (2014) I was conducting some mosaic tests for future projects. I attempted a widefield 9 panel mosaic in Cygnus and processed the hydrogen alpha data but never got around to completing the tri-color Hubble Pallet image until now due to some difficult to process issues in the O[III] and S[II] channels. Those difficulties, combined with the fact that I only gathered about one frame of each channel per panel in the mosaic (very thin data!), meant that I wasn’t exactly thrilled to process this one to completion. Time away from the hobby due to the out of state relocation though has made me a little anxious to get back to imaging so I decided to revisit some of this forgotten data.