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11/30/-1
    
Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Oregon Star Party 2015
Five wonderful nights at Indian Trail Spring. Bortle 1 goodness!
 
Although the first two nights were spotted with clouds and haze that made imaging pretty pointless, so I left them covered. Poor guys sat for 2 nights not even polar aligned. Friends and neighbors tried their hand at imaging, but I'm not sure if anyone got anything decent. It did make me wish I brought my lenses though as some haze can be a friend for wide-field imaging as it makes what can be appealing diffused halos around the brighter stars. 
 
However, during those first two nights I was able to use the 16" Dob to get some wonderful views through sucker holes and the haze didn't bother me that much. Perhaps it dimmed the lights a bit, but as long as there was nothing too bright in the field, it was hardly noticeable.
 
On Wednesday, things cleared and I was able to uncover the the imaging scopes and take some pictures while I observed. I really enjoy soaking in deep space galaxies from hundreds of millions of light years away while the sound of my shutters click away at the other end of my site.
 
One of my favorite views this trip was the Pisces Cloud galaxy group. I observed down to 15.5 magnitude. I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to faint fuzzies that I can barely see, but it just continues to blow me away every time I see another one.
 
The Perseid meteor shower had some nice displays for us. It's so funny when half the people all of a sudden cut the silence with an "Ooooh!" or a "Whoa!" or maybe "Wow!" followed by loads of mumbles of folks who missed the spectacle. Maybe one of these years I'll put out a scope and a wide field lens and capture them through the night.
 
A particularly special treat this year was an incredible display of a large bright waving curtain almost like a ribbon and a sort of multiple pinnacles of tall moving brightening and dimming green aurora. I've only seen it in pictures look quite like that. Sure we've seen some glow here at the 45 Parallel, but this had detail and that shifting brightness you see in time lapse captures from Alaska and such. It was simply remarkable. I pulled out my phone to see if I could capture a picture of it, and I didn't think about my phone's ridiculously bright LED. As it lit up the other astronomers sites and everyone started yelling at me I instantly put it down and joined in the grumbling at whoever the insensitive loser was who lit up the camp... but shhhhh... don't tell anyone it was me!
 
As the week went on, the sky got better... until the HUGE 55,000 acre fire only 60 miles or something away. It smoked us out for a night. I decided to image through it, but nothing turned out that great.
 
Saturday night was the best night of the week. Clear, dark, mostly steady, cold.. it was great! As I packed up Sunday afternoon I could see that the night was going to be excellent. Better then Saturday most likely. Doesn't it figure you have to leave when it just starts getting really good?!
 
All in all it was wonderful in spite of the haze, clouds, and smoke. I did come away with some good pictures, memories of excellent views, good times with my daughter and some old astro-buddies, as well as meeting some new friends.
 
 
Gallery for this outing:
 
Double Cluster
I was pretty surprised about this image. For one, out of habit I shot 5 minute subs which were actually too long for this target. The brightest stars are essentially blown out. But, the thing I really like about it is that the faint Milky Way background stars are really tiny as focus was good and the subs were fairly deep. Because of this, the shot has a huge diversity of star sizes and aesthetically I find that very appealing.

Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: ATM 60mm f/4.1 Achromat
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour (12 x 300)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop CS5
Support Files: 20 darks, 20 flats, 20 bias
 
Beckoning Ghosts and Iris 
At first when I shot this I wasn't planning on putting the Iris in there at all, but when I actually framed it, I decided to put it in there. Good thing too because the ghosts are almost non-existent! I suppose I'd need a lot more time and probably a sky more like Saturday night then Wednesday night when I shot it.

Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 4 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 3.5 hours (21 x 600s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with High Dither, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop
Support Files: 20 flats, 20 bias, 20 darks
 
M5
Again, 5 minute subs.. waaaay too long for this. I actually saw that I was blowing out the core when I was capturing, but because I was enjoying my visual observing so much and I wasn't sure if I had 3 minute or 2 minute subs at the right temperature in the dark library, I just got lazy and shot the core right out of it! Ha ha!

Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 4 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with High Dither, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop
Support Files: 20 flats, 20 bias, 20 darks
 
M8, M20 and Surrounds
Even though I just shot this last month, I decided to do it again to get the extended nebulosity in the image more. I'm much happier with this framing although there is a star cluster to the bottom left that got cut off. Oh well, you can't frame them all perfectly!

Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: ATM 60mm f/4.1 Achromat
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 2 hours (24 x 300)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop CS5
Support Files: 20 darks, 20 flats, 20 bias
 
M22
In the case of M22, it doesn't have the bright core like M5 does, so 5 minute subs work well on this shot. I love how the cluster is just a dense group of stars that practically blends in with the Milky Way. So cool!

Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 4 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with High Dither, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop
Support Files: 20 flats, 20 bias, 20 darks
 
M31
I thought I'd try to improve on my M31 shot taken a few years ago with the William Optics Zenithstar 66 which is not a very flat field so it needed cropped a bit too tight. The framing worked out great with the AT65EDQ and although there are pros and cons to this image over the other one, I think I'm really pleased with the result here.

Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: ATM 60mm f/4.1 Achromat
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 2.5 hours (30 x 300)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop CS5
Support Files: 20 darks, 20 flats, 20 bias
 
M74
Well, even though I know my field of view is way too wide for this target, I thought I'd shoot it anyway. M74 (The Phantom Galaxy) holds a special place in my heart because from my house (Bortle 5) with my old 12" Dob I couldn't see it, but when I got the 16", I could. I was one of those objects that really stood out for me because with the aperture upgrade it brought this object (and many others of course) to my viewing at home.

Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 4 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with High Dither, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop
Support Files: 20 flats, 20 bias, 20 darks
 
NGC523 and Surrounding Galaxies
This may have been a little overly ambitious. I really wanted to try and get the irregular galaxy and it's cluster buddies, but again, the field is far too wide to actually make out any real detail in the galaxy. You can see it's irregular (it's the galaxy nearly dead center), but that's about it. There are a few dozen galaxies in the entire field and I do like it a lot, but I'd need much sharper optics and a longer focal length to actually do it justice.

Scope: Vixen ED103S with WO Flat 4 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour (12 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with High Dither, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop
Support Files: 20 flats, 20 bias, 20 darks
 
Veil Nebula Complex Mosaic
I've been enjoying shooting these mosaics with the AT65EDQ. For this target I plan on getting some H-alpha from my house to complete the data set, but for just the color, I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Similarly to the Double Cluster shot, I'm pleased as punch with the varying star sizes. I feel like it adds a lot more depth to the image.

Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: ATM 60mm f/4.1 Achromat
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 3 hours (36 x 300 - each panel)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop CS5
Support Files: 20 darks, 20 flats, 20 bias


M31 (again) 2011 and 2015 Combined Data
This is data combined from 2010 with the Vixen ED103s and 2015 with the AstroTech 65EDQ. 5 hours 30 minutes total. There is some chromatic aberration issues from the Vixen, and the crop is because the field of view of the Vixen can't get the whole galaxy in, but overall I think it's an improvement on both the 2011 shot and the 2015 shot.
 
Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ, Vixen ED103S
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: ATM 60mm f/4.1 Achromat
Camera: Canon EOS 1000D (Modified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 5.5 hours (66 x 300)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration and Stacking in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in PixInsight & Photoshop CS5
Support Files: 30 darks, 40 flats, 40 bias


Image Gallery For This Session
DoubleCluster 1h Ghosts 3h 30m
M22 1h M31 2h 30m
M31 5h 30m M5 1h
M74 1h M8 M20 2h
NGC523 1h Veil Mosaic 3h
   

DoubleCluster-1h.jpg
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