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Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Another weekend at ITS

Have I mentioned how much I love this place? ITS is so killer. 5000 feet, 360 degree horizon, treeline-to-treeline Milky Way, Bortle 1 sky and only 4 hour drive.

The views this weekend were exceptional as usual. Friday had some early clouds that hid the east for the first half-hour or so and another back came in around 3am to cut the night a bit short, but overall it was really nice. Saturday night was crisper and darker but a light haze came in towards the end of the evening that softened things up a bit.

Even still, my visual observations were nothing short of stunning and the imaging sessions produced those excellent, high signal, dark sky shots.

Have I mentioned how much I love this place?

The Viewing Session
I'm so glad I upgraded to a 16" scope (although I can see a 24" in my future!) as it definitely out-performs the 12". My EQ Platform alignment was really close and objects were staying in higher power views longer then I sometimes get. Since the Dob has a longer dampening time on the platform it's nice to not have to move it while observing an object.

Some particularly nice views this weekend were:
NGC 7479 - a face-on barred spiral in Pegasus. The arms were just noticeable. Never seen that before when looking at this object.

M5 at 400x. Spilled over the eyepiece and filled the view with stars. Just incredible. Saturday night sustained crisp high power views for quite some time.

Dust lanes in M20. Since I was photographing it I thought I'd visually observe it. It's been a while since I looked at this nebula. The dust lanes were distinct and highly contrasted against the nebula. No filter used this time.

Jupiter. Oh my. I've literally never seen it so good. The surface detail was sharp and clear, the modeling in the northern equatorial band was very well pronounced, the GRS (which is not being obscured by the southern equatorial band) was nicely contrasted against un-banded the surface, and the thin northernmost band (do these bands have names or designations?) was very prominent.

The Imaging Session
I had 4 targets planned for this weekend and I was able to get most of what I was after.
1) Finish my NGC 7000 Complex wide field shot (3 hours)
2) Capture 4 hours of LDN673
3) Capture 3 hours of the Veil (NGC 6992/95)
4) Capture M8 and M20 Wide Field

Veil Nebula
I'm still trying to get my best shot of this target. So far, this is the best one, but I'm likely going to shoot it again. I'm very pleased with the way this shot turned out.

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: 800
Exposure: 2 hours (12 x 600s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration, Stacking and DDP in Images Plus, Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, 10 darks
See Gallery below for image

LDN 673 Dark Nebula
This is my first time shooting this target. Someone on the Images Plus list posted it as a challenge and I loved the target and couldn't wait to shoot it. Seeing how I'm very pleased with the way this shot turned out.

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: 800
Exposure: 3 hours 40 minutes (22 x 600s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration, Stacking and DDP in Images Plus, Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 40 flats, 40 bias, 10 darks
See Gallery below for image

M8 and M20 Wide Field - 180mm
I shot this while shooting LDN673. But after the meridian flip I wasn't able to get the camera in the right position to take another 2 hours. Something to consider for setup next time!

Scope: Canon 70-300mm USM IS Zoom
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 (Stock Unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 2 hours (24 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration, Stacking and DDP in ImagesPlus, Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 10 darks, no flats or bias
See Gallery below for image

North American Nebula Complex Wide Field - 180mm
This is the longest shot I've ever taken. 4 nights on one target, 8 hours of H-alpha from my house and 2 hours of regular OSC RGB from a dark sky location. I'm extremely happy with this shot.

Scope: Canon 70-300mm USM IS Zoom
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: 800
Exposure: 8 hours Ha (48 x 600s) and 2 Hours RGB (24 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Calibration, Stacking and DDP in ImagesPlus, Levels, Curves, Astronomy Tools, and Noise Ninja in Photoshop
Support Files: 10 darks, no flats or bias
See Gallery below for image







Image Gallery For This Session
01 Veil 2h 10m 02 LDN673 4h 40m
03 NGC7000 HaRGB 10h 04 M8M20 2h
   

01-Veil-2h-10m.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 07/14/10 at 03:50pm Miquel Casas Guirao, Barcelona (Spain) wrote:
Congratulations for image,very good.

On 07/13/10 at 09:59pm Miquel wrote:
Neil,

Superb shots!!! I lvoe the LDN shot. Amazing!!!

On 07/13/10 at 07:42pm Barry wrote:
Well, they're noce too.....and nice.

On 07/13/10 at 10:40am Barry wrote:
A regular nebula-fest! Noce shots, Neil.

On 07/13/10 at 10:12am Greg wrote:
All great shots, Neil. I'm really impressed with the performance of the zoom lens, so checked it out on slrgear.com. They say it is one of those rare cases where you get more than you paid for - virtually an "L" series lens, except for the amount of plastic in the body. And you chose just the right focal length for optimal performance, although it was probably dictated by the size of the target!

LDN673 is a gorgeous shape - I wish there was some color nebulosity behind it.

M8 and M20 usually look great with more of the H-alpha red, but I have to admit that with the Milky Way structure around it this looks very nice. I assume you were using the modded camera for one of the other shots while shooting this with the unmodded?

Greg



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