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11/30/-1
    
Saturday, April 10th, 2010
Camp Hancock Star Party

Here I am on the satellite WiFi at OMSI's Hancock Field Station on Saturday night waiting for the clouds to part and the sky to clear (with fingers crossed). I thought I'd spend the day processing my pictures from the night before.

Friday the 9th
Tonight was excellent - partly because of how great the sky is here, but partly because it wasn't supposed to be great! Partly cloudy and high winds was the forecast, but not a cloud in the sky and no wind at all was the reality.

The New Swayze Mirror First Light
My primary point of interest at this outing was the first light of my 16" Meade Lightbridge mirror refigured by Steve Swayze. It was simply stunning. for the first time with this scope I had pinpoint stars. No issues "finding focus" and more contrast then before. I couldn't be more happy with the work done. The new coating is superior to the Meade coating and all around things are better. Yippee!

I observed from 8:30pm until the sun rose at 5am. It was incredible. Some high haze came in around 3am and softened the views a bit, but overall a fantastic night.

My favorite observation of the night was detailed structure in M61 and the 13.6 mag NGC galaxy next to it was clearly visible. 14th mag was as deep as I looked this night. Simply spectacular.

Saturday the 10th

Mostly socked in.We had about 30 minutes of pristine viewing with a completely clear sky,  and then another 90 minutes or more of sucker hole observing. But I know the sky pretty well, so without having to look things up in charts and trying to star hop or hunt down objects, we saw many Messier and NGC objects with the faintest object being 13.6. Planetary nebulae, galaxies, clusters, etc. The sucker hole viewing made for some fun observation actually. "Can you see the structure? Oh wait... the object disappeared... hang on, it's back again, yeah, I see it!" LOL. Scott Legg and I were the only ones enjoying the views. Although, understandably, other people may not have found the 2 hours of this observing condition "enjoyable".

It's just now turning 3am and the sky is closing up again. Well, from my vantage point, some observing is better then none. And even the sucker hole stuff we caught was far better then anything we get at home. I saw structure in Virgo galaxies *through* the clouds. Woot!

I'm glad I both stayed and didn't tear down.  8^)

The Images
This is the first dark sky outing with the new camera as well. So it was a kind of first light for both the new mirror and first light Bortle 1 sky for the Hap Modded 1000D.

It's clearly more sensitive then the stock camera. Particularly seen in the amount of Ha detail in the galaxy shots.

M101
I was anticipating shooting this for 3 hours, but as soon as I saw Rho Ophiuchi rise over the hills, I decided to bail out and shoot that instead. I ended up with 40 minutes on M101, but it's still pretty good for the short time and I'm seriously happy with the performance of the Vixen ED103S here in the dark sky.
Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 2 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 40 minutes (8 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with high dithering, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker (Kappa-Sigma Clipping for all frames), Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, Gradient XTerminator and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, one dark used as a bad pixel map
See Gallery below for image

M81-M82
I was hoping to get some of the red H2 regions in M81 and really hoping to get the red jets coming out of the core of M82. I got a little of both and that alone makes me very happy with this shot. I'm really pleased with this new camera and the decision to have it modified.
Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 2 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 2 Hours (24 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with high dithering, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker (Kappa-Sigma Clipping for all frames), Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, Gradient XTerminator and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, one dark used as a bad pixel map
See Gallery below for image

Rho Ophiuchi
I've been wanting to shoot this entire region wide field for quite a while and was inspired by another photo of just Rho Ophiuchi star and the dusty nebula next to it to shoot this one. I wish it was up more then an hour before the sun! I'll try again in June and hopefully get hours of exposure.
Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 2 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 1 hour 30 minutes (18 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with high dithering, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker (Kappa-Sigma Clipping for all frames), Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, Gradient XTerminator and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, one dark used as a bad pixel map
See Gallery below for image

Thor's Helmet
I've been wanting to shot this for a while as well. It was setting fairly quickly and very low in the south while I was shooting it which caused the stars to bloat out quite a bit. For my first attempt at this object I'm very pleased with the results.
Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 2 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 58 minutes (7 x 480s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with high dithering, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker (Kappa-Sigma Clipping for all frames), Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, Gradient XTerminator and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, one dark used as a bad pixel map
See Gallery below for image

Moon and Earth Shine
As the moon rose over the hills around 4:30 am it made for a very picturesque moment. I was happy to catch it.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A560 (P&S)
Special Settings: Auto Expose
ISO: Dunno
Exposure: 1 second
Processing Software: Tweaks in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Image Gallery For This Session
01 M101 40m 02 M81 M82 2h
02a M8182 2h ImagesPlus 03 Rho Ophiuchi 1h 30m
04 Thors Helmet 1h 05 Moon
   

01-M101-40m.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
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Comments:
On 04/13/10 at 11:33pm Neil Heacock wrote:
Thanks Dave. I had planned on 3 hours of it and ended up with only 40 minutes due to a schedule change (I freaked out when I saw Scorpius rising and went after Rho Ophiuchi!)

-Neil

On 04/13/10 at 03:00pm Anonymous wrote:
Great M101 Neil !

Dave Halliday

On 04/12/10 at 07:31pm Hi Neil, wrote:
It is amazing everything that you were able to catch in one night. I call that efficiency and effectiveness.

I love the pictures. What can I say? I'm a fan for Dr. Heacock. :)

M.

On 04/12/10 at 01:55am Neil Heacock wrote:
Thanks Peter. We had a blast.

Regarding the site, I'm glad there are other folks getting to use it. Not too many of us have entries that go back to the beginning in '04 but you are one of them! I always enjoy reading your entries. Since you haven't added one in quite a while, I thought you sold your gear and took up golfing or something. 8^)

Here's to clear skies and dry birds... Cheers!

-Neil

On 04/12/10 at 01:25am Peter wrote:
It appears you had a great star party, well done.

And thank-you Neil for providing this great website.
Up and running now for over six years!!! :)



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