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11/30/-1
    
Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Maupin Star Party
Another outing to pretty dark skies. This spot seems prone to being windy as this weekend wasn't a whole lot different then last month, but the wind was milder over all and even stopped from time to time. However, I was a bit more prepared this time.

Unlike last month where the winds were sustained, this time the winds came and went on Friday. but Saturday they were more steady at about 7-10 mph. My wind blocker structure held out with no problems at all. It worked very well.

However, I'm writing this on Sunday where the winds are much stronger at 15 mph and up. Folks are moving their vehicles to try and block the wind. My structure started to blow over so I disassembled it until they die down later this evening.

Sunday Evening Addendum: By 11pm or possibly earlier the winds died to a hush with a small gust now and again. Unfortunately, seeing really started to go to pot as some hazy system went through. But by 2:30 or so things cleared off again and we were back in business until the sun came up.

The Visual Session
The visual session was great. My scope was performing very well. My mods to improve the movement were very successful and the balance is far superior to what it was. I could even use the binoviewer without balance problems. Unfortunately the binoviewer doesn't come to focus! Arg.

For the first time I could see the small PGC galaxy next to M13 and the IC1296 galaxy next to M57. That was very exciting. Overall, the views were limited to sub 300x power, but there is plenty to see at that magnification. Visually, the weekend was fantastic. This scope also resolved detail in NGC 5248 (Caldwell 45). That was also most excellent to see. As I dial this scope in, I'm more and more pleased with it's performance.

The Imaging Session
The imaging session was a little tricky. I get easily frustrated with the issues of imaging through a Newtonian and through a longer focal length then I've been used to for the last several years. Even still, I think after some tweaks things worked out pretty well. There were seeing issues on Saturday that made the stars pretty sloppy towards the end of the evening. NGC 6960 - "The Witches Broom" in this case for me.

Leo Trio M65 M66 NGC3628 Image
I shot this last month, but I was fighting the wind doing it so I thought I'd try it again under better conditions. I think the image is improved somewhat over last months version.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


NGC4565 Image
This was exciting because each sub frame was picking up some of the smaller galaxies and detail in the dust lane from edge to edge. I was looking forward to the stack and I'm very pleased with this one.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Eagle Nebula M16 Image
The last time I shot this I was at OSP and took a single shot with my 102 achromat before I understood stacking. This shot is a little better (hee hee). Even still, I had to present it at 50% because the stars were just too bloated and problematic due to issues with the imaging setup.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Whirlpool Galaxy M51 Image
I have several shots of M51, but I'm still looking for a personal best that I can be really happy with. This may just be it. Again, I'm not able to present the shot at 100%, but this is 75%.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Witches Broom Nebula (NGC6960) Image
I've never shot this before, and unfortunately, this was the last shot I took on Saturday where the conditions were continuing to deteriorate and the winds were still blowing pretty strong. The sun was starting to come up on the last 2 frames. I'll definitely try this again from a darker sky and hopefully conditions that allow for better stars.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


M81 M82 Image
This is the longest shot of the galaxy pair I've taken, but I'm a bit surprised not to see much more detail then in the 20 minute exposure from last month. Perhaps I'm missing something here...
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


M101 Image
Been wanting a good shot of M101 and I'm surprised that this was not it. I'm pleased with it for what it is, but I think this is object probably requires at least 2 hours and a far darker sky.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Whale Galaxy NGC 4631 Image
I've never shot this before, but the detail is easily obtained. I will definitely try this one again another time.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image




Image Gallery For This Session
01 Setup1 02 Setup2
03 LeoTrio 1h 04 NGC4565 1h
05 M16 1h 06 M51 1h
07 WitchesBroon 1hr 08 M8182 1h
09 M101 1h 10 Whale 1h
   

01-Setup1.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
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Comments:
On 05/25/09 at 11:14pm Barry wrote:
I agree with Andy 100%! Not sure about a kidney, though.....maybe a tonsil. LOL

These are very clean, detailed shots.....expertly processed!

Nice work!!!

On 05/25/09 at 07:51pm Andy wrote:
Neal, your photography is nothing to be ashamed of, its beautiful. I would give a kidney to be able to do astro photography like this...




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