Maupin Star Party
Although not necessarily an "official" club star party, a handful of us got together in Bortle 2 Maupin for great views and images.
The forecast was not great, but hey, I'd rather be there and say, "Yup, they were right!" then not go and hear, "Oh man, you should have been there, we had the best views ever!!". I wasn't able to get out of town until it was already dark, and I rolled in to the star party at 12:40am. The sky was perfectly clear. I set up the wide field setup as soon as I could. By 2:02 I was shooting my first frame with roughly an hour and forty minutes before twilight. I'll take whatever time I can get.
My primary objective was to finish the HaRGB mosaic test of the North American Nebula and the Pelican Nebula. I had an hour of each frame in h-alpha and now I needed the color data. I figured I'd split the 100 minutes into 40 minutes each frame (plus framing, focusing, dithering, and downloading the subs it would be close to 50 minute each). I got close at 35 minutes each.
After the frames were acquired, I stacked them in Deep Sky Stacker and used PixInsight for the mosaic alignment. Just as with the Ha data, it worked swimmingly.
Below is the result. This 2 panel mosaic field is very close to what I could get with a single field in the Zenithstar 66 coupled with the William Optics 0.8x flattener/reducer. However, the field in the AstroTech AT65EDQ is significantly flatter then the ZS66 - even with it's coupled flattener. So the mosaic image produces a superior result corner to corner which is what I was looking for in the end.
Was a bust. Clouds came in and for the most part stayed. We did some visual observing through sucker holes, but the transparency was really bad 99% of the time and seeing wasn't anything great either. We looked at a couple of dozen DSO's as well as Saturn (which was my favorite of the night) but were done by 1:30 or so. Such a shame. My friend Greg said we should have went last weekend, and he was right. we held out for the new moon and got skunked.
Sunday - Annular Eclipse and Evening Observing
It's still Saturday night and I don't know how Sunday is going to turn out. The forecast is even worse for Sunday so we'll see if I even get to observe the eclipse or see any stars in the evening. More to come...
Sunday Addendum: So it's been overcast pretty much all day. The clouds thinned a bit and I was able to observe the eclipse although it was quite obscured by clouds. It's now 8:30pm and I packed up most of the gear, but we'll see if anything clears otherwise I'll probably heard home around midnight. I really should have been in Chico with my brother this weekend... oh well...
NGC 7000 / IC 5067 Two Panel Mosaic in H-alpha
Scope: AstroTech AT65EDQ
Mount: Orion Sirius 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
Exposure: 35 minutes per panel for a total of 70 minutes (14 x 300 seconds)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity with Extreme Dither, Calibration and Stacking of each panel in Deep Sky Stacker, Mosaic combine in PixInsight, Levels/Curves/Enhancements in Photoshop
Support Files: 30 darks, 30 flats, 30 bias