RCA/OMSI star party (Clarno, OR): 9/18 & 9/19/09:
My son Tony and I arrived about 2:45pm Friday. We always stop for lunch at a little cafe in Antelope.......It's up for sale. I hope they find a buyer who will keep it open, but it has got to be a tough way to make a livin. Not many folks around there these days. We were the only customers......another star party guy was just leaving as we arrived.
It never ceases to amaze me how much "stuff" you need to take with you to an overnight star party......snacks, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, coolers, thermos bottles, lawn chairs, observing chairs, tables, battery with cables to run the laptop, powertank to run the telescope, camera tripod, 3 boxes of eyepieces and assorted astro photo gear......and we haven't even gotten to the telescopes and all the attendant accessories for them.
We slept in the van on Friday night......I planned to stay up until at least 3am (planned on imaging the Orion area), and I wasn't comfortable with my son by himself in a cabin 100 yards away. That worked out pretty well for him......with a warm sleeping bag on a foam pad. I on the other hand had to sleep sitting up (semi-reclined) in the drivers seat. Saturday night, we slept in a cabin and both of us slept like logs.
Friday night imaging was a bit of a challenge with only half my attention on it. I spent lots of time helping my son learn to find things. I gave him a list, and a Telrad flip chart. I would find the object while he watched, and then he would move the scope off the object and try to find it again. He did pretty well. (6" Dob) We managed to find M13, M27, M45, M51, M57, M31, M33, the Dbl Cluster, M92. I think we both most enjoyed scanning the Milky Way with binoculars. I got Tony to bed about 1:30am.
Saturday morning after breakfast, Tony and I drove over to Fossil, OR to the public fossil beds behind Wheeler high school. With only a screw driver, and some climbing around, we actually found some fossilized plants. (see photo below)
Saturday night, we spent entirely just looking at different objects with his scope and my 9x63 binoculars. It had that "it's gonna rain" look most of the day, and by dinner time it was almost 100% overcast and threatening. I put my gear away, just in case. We came within 5 minutes of giving up for the night around 9pm.......when suddenly the clouds just seemed to evaporate. By 9:30pm the sky was semi-clear, and by 10pm it was crystal clear. You just never know at Hancock. By the time it cleared, it was as dark as a thousand midnights.....too dark to start setting up my gear.
Friday night's imaging session:
130mm f/5 Newtonian, CG5 GT goto mount, Orion StarShoot II color
M16, the Eagle Nebula: This was my first target. I shot only 40 subs @ 40 seconds each. I think I tossed out 3 subs. I think it may be the best image I have ever taken, not scientifically, but simply from a "pretty picture" point of view. *star spikes caused by spider vanes on scope Approx. 7,000 light years away
NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula: 90 subs @ 40 seconds each. I tossed out about 15 of them. This is a preliminary processing done at Hancock. I am not happy with it, but I will work on it some more. Apprx. 11,000 light years away
NGC 6951: In Cepheus: 71 subs @ 50 seconds each......4 dropped. I like the rich star field. Picked more of the faint spiral arm structure than my previous attempt from my driveway. Estimated to be over 110 million light years from Earth.
: aka the Phantom Galaxy
. 90 subs @ 40 seconds
each......only 64 useable
. A poor image but I will post it regardless. Seeing was hit and miss Friday night and I think the scope was already running on
powertank 'fumes'. Mag. 8.5, approx. 35 million light years
Tony in the mess hall.....processing one of my photos? No......it's early Saturday morning, waiting for breakfast, and he is already online playing a game, and sending emails to his friends.
Cool rock formation near camp
. Tony said, "There's a trail up there...let's climb it." I talked him out of it. LOL
Fossilized plant......dug up at Wheeler high school, Fossil Oregon. Open to the public for a $5 ($3 kids) donation to the school district. Example of a Metasequoia......found in fossil records from 140 million to 5 million years ago.
* Shortly after 3am after finishing the M74 run, I was in the process of slewing to Orion, when the scope sputtered to a stop halfway there. A quick check of the Powertank showed the "Needs charging" light. I had forgotten to charge it up at home. Too many things to remember. We both remembered our tooth brushes... LOL.