I thought I would post this other shot of the Milky Way (approx. from Perseus to Cepheus) that I took at Spectacle Lake on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 10:01 pm (using my camera's time stamp).
This is the early-fall Milky Way in the north part of the sky, including campfire smoke at one end, and two mystery streaks, either 2 meteors or 2 Iridium flares, or, perhaps one of each. I didn't witness the passing of the objects that left the streaks; during most of the time I had the shutter open (for 10 minutes), I was too busy in my lodge room, watching the Leafs lose to the Penguins.
Anybody have any suggestions as to what the streak are? Meteors? Bolides? Iridium Flares?
I'm back from vacation from Spectacle Lake Lodge, near Barry's Bay, Ontario, and, I can say that I couldn't have asked for better weather. I was up there from Sunday, September 21 to Friday, September 26, and I got 5 clear nights out of my 5 night stay.
Here are just a few of my images from my trip:
Jupiter and the Sagittarius Teapot set in the south-west on the evening of Tuesday, September 23, 2008.
On to some of my more serious deep sky shots of the week:
This is an excerpt from my image of the Eagle Nebula (M16) in Serpens, taken on Sunday, September 21, 2008.
The open star cluster NGC 6939 is at upper right, and spiral galaxy NGC 6946 is at lower left. These are in the constellation Cepheus, near the border with Cygnus. This is an excerpt from a stack of two images taken on Sunday, September 21, 2008.
The open cluster M52 in Cassiopeia is at upper left. The Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) is at lower right. This is an excerpt from an image taken on Monday, September 22, 2008.
The Pleiades (M45) an some of their reflection nebulosity, in Taurus, taken on Tuesday, September 23, 2008.
I will post larger versions, plus technical details for each, in upcoming days, after all my post-vacation laundry and my end-of-season baseball banquets have been completed.
Here's a shot of the Milkyway I took three nights ago just before the bright moon rose. It is a single 1 minute exposure at ISO 1600 - standard camera tripod - no tracking - using a 4.5mm fisheye lens.
And another image taken the next day - processed slightly differently (this was from 9 - 30 seconnd exposures).
I lucked out with these shots - no visible objects tracking through. However, on another series of 30 second exposures I had what would initially appear to be a meteor - except from the length of the 3 exposures it was caught on - it looks to have lasted around 1 minute. So I am guessing it may have been a satellite that rotated to suddenly become bright. Notice the "curved path" caused by the edge of the fisheye. I don't know - if anyone has a better theory let me know.
I arrived at the BFSP on Tuesday to take advantage of the wonderful clear skies that were in the forecast. The first couple of nights had lots of dew and I had to cut my imaging sessions short because of a faulty connection with my dew heater. Thanks to Steve I was covered for the other nights. Not one single night of the star party was completely clouded out so I was able to make good use of the time there.
There were two experienced sketchers nearby that gave me a few tools and tips to set me on my way to try my hand at sketching while my camera was doing it's thing. Below are my best sketches that I scanned and inverted :) I was really impressed at how I was actually able to pick out more detail in the eyepiece than ever before. Note: The background of the scan came out a little strange.
12" LB, 26mm eyepiece..
M17 including eyepiece aberations LOL
One morning Jackie, John and I got up early to take pictures of a spectacular sunrise over an open field across the road.
I was also able to capture a few familiar and not so familiar deep sky objects.
Iris nebula in Cepheus
M45 Pleiades star cluster
It was great meeting many fellow Canadian amateur astronomers... including two nice guys, Philip and Robert from the Niagara RASC. I also bumped into a few friends from the Cloudy Nights forum and some York University Astronomy Club council members. We all shared thoughts on weather, equipment, observing and most importantly astrophotography :)
I packed up to leave Sunday bright and early immediately following a few solid hours of imaging and a beautiful misty sunrise. Looking back I would have to say that this star party was one of the best that I have been to. With the company of HAA friends the time spent there was even better.
Here's the beginning of my report. The other attendees can add their comments as necessary.
The Black Forest Star Party is held in the late summer, every year, at Cherry Springs State Park, on the Astronomy Field.
This year, there were dire warnings of hurricane force winds, and pelting rains. As it was, i got 2 perfect nights, and one perfect half-night along with much socializing with fellow amateur astronomers. And i was only there for 3 nights.
Those that spent longer fared even better.
What amateur astronomers do in the daytime.
Sadly, Jim's tent has tested the warranty claims.
A happy camper
In such a dark sky, things become visible that would otherwise not be noticed. One example is the zodiacal light. This was so bright it almost fooled me into thinking it was dawn, the first night. The second night, i saw it extend beyond the Pleiades.
On Sunday morning, it was again prominent, this time with many more present to appreciate it.
The food was excellent, especially the cooperative way it was prepared. We were fortunate to have almost the whole group within a small area, so we were able to come and go, and trade views in our scopes.
Early on Saturday evening, the sky was still cloudy. I tried the "Dobsonian Cannon" trick... shining my bright flashlight into the eyepiece hole of the GWS and shining a focused parallel beam high into the sky, and onto distant trees, clouds, etc. I tried shining it through a gap in the clouds but it seemed to hit higher clouds.
Pluto had set by 3 AM, so there as no fishing it up. Comet Boattini was not in my CDC anymore. I wonder why.
The "hurricane winds" struck us suddenly during the brilliant sunshine on Friday just after lunch. Jim and I spent a few anxious moments re-staking tents that threatened to fly off to Kansas. The Mullers' kitchen shelter was blown to bits and Cindy & Stewart's tent went for a tumble across the field!! Jim's tent poles snapped and tore through his tent during one particularly strong gust. The afternoon forecast had called only for moderate breezes with gusts to 22mph (!?!)
The observing on Thursday night was superb and I was able to find the dark nebula known as the Ink Spot just above the "spout" of the teapot asterism in Sagittarius with my homemade 8" telescope. (Sue French mentioned this object in her September 08 Sky & Tel column.)
There were bargains galore at the vendors' tent and many HAA-ers now have new scopes & accessories to show and tell!!
The HAA banner was prominently displayed at our group campsite, making it easy for those of us who came later in the week to find everyone. Thanks again to Steve and Kerry for saving us all prime camping spots at this very busy star party!!!
HAA at BFSP 2008
John G and I drove down together, making a last minute spontaneous run for it at 8:00pm Wednesday night. We arrived at Cherry Springs late, around 12:30am. Our tents were already transported and ready with the others. We (Kerry,Steve and I) helped John G unload and he was able to set up his equipment quickly, joining the others.
The sky was outstanding. The red lights, the whirring of scopes,the soft chatter and comforting sounds of observing surrounded us. What a perfect night. What great fun!
Soon the signs of dawn were upon us. Kerry, John G and I hurried over to the ridge across from the park to watch the sun break over the mountain top, lighting up the meadow through the mist.It was so beautiful we headed over after each night of observing.
John G and I said we were the most fortunate. We were able to observe all night on Thursday ~twice! Once when we arrived, (just after midnight) and then later again that night.
The entire star party was a wonderful experience. The lectures, the friendship between astronomers can't be beat.
The one highlight for me was meeting John Dobson. What an amazing man! He has a great sense of humor, wonderful tales and was so generous with his time, to all of us.
For the HAA it was a total co-operative effort from the get-go. Ed collecting and sending in a group registration. Steve and Kerry scouting the space for our HAA village. Jim W creating our gathering place. All the rest lending a hand whenever needed. Thank you all! Thanks for the memories.
After a pleasant drive through NY and PA countryside, Gail and I arrived at the BFSP Thursday afternoon. We easily located the HAA "village" and, even though we'd intended to set up further back from the main entrance, there was so much room in the adjoining section we decided that was the place to be.
As mentioned, the weather was a mixed bag and, yes, our dining shelter did get blasted apart, but with a couple of splints and some duct tape we managed to resurrect it and carry on.
In addition to the common highlights, Gail was thrilled to have her picture taken with John Dobson along with John Gauvreau, and she also won a TMB 30mm Ultra-wide 2" eyepiece that gave us a great view of M31/32/110 in the same FOV of our 12" reflector.
Gail and John with John Dobson.
And we will take the blame for the clouds that hung around all day Saturday since we bought a Coronado PST (only $499 no tax, duty or shipping :)
As usual, we met friends from previous star parties and made some new ones, and can't wait for the next opportunity to combine camping with astronomy.
Glenn & Gail
With the flurry of blog updates last night, it looks like my comments and photos were overwritten by another. Of course with my memory, I forgot most of what I had said except for 2 things: Thanks to Steve and Kerry and others for setting up our site which was great, and that I had a great time and look forward to going again. I hope other members will join us since it was a great venue for observing, socializing and meeting astronomers from many areas. Everyone was very friendly.
I've re-added my photos and posted the shot from Jackie's camera of John Dobson with Gail Muller and John Gauvreau. Hopefully if I can get some of my astro-photos to work out, I'll include some of them later.
John and Kerry at PA's answer to the Grand Canyon.
HAA Gang well represented.
M42 - Single 30sec exposure at 200mm on Canon 40D @800ISO
[12+ HAA members are at the Black Forest Star Party Sept 5-7.]
I went to the BFSP on Tuesday morning with Kerry to meet Ed who was already there. One thing about long clear nights under dark skies, is that dew can be a problem. Not wanting to be 'shut down' by dew anytime before dawn, i took steps to be ready to prevent it and fight it when it happens anyway. I have a 350 watt mini hair dryer and a fresh power tank, my 'mobile' dew busting setup. It works great.
We have had 2 perfect nights. The first one, we stayed up till about 4 am, when I figured I had had enough. A combination of early rising and impending dawn shut me down. I think i got fooled by the zodiacal light though, based on what was observed the next night.
The skies were excellent, and I was able to find everything I sought. There are a lot of bright, very fast meteors in the sky. They leave white or green fuzzy trails. I must have seen more than 3 dozen, of which perhaps a dozen would be excellent ones. Plenty of normal meteors too. I missed probably twice that many, based on what sounds I could hear from others in the field.
Wednesday night was also excellent. I found Pluto, and sketched the surrounding star field. My CDC is configured to show more stars than the CDC on Kerry's machine, so there was some doubt about the star field being right. It was the right field, but the problem was to identify which fairly bright dot was Pluto. The GWS also shows many more stars than the CDC. But Pluto is in the bag!
On Wednesday evening, Jackie and John arrived, and found our camp after a bit of exploring down the lanes. There are about 150 observers on the field by now. Fortunately, the HAA contingent is set up prominently near the observing domes. After setting up, Jackie and John got right into observing on probably the best night for the rest of the week. I saw the zodiacal light, extending perhaps 30 degrees up the sky. It was a triangle of light. The skies being so dark, it actually was visible on both sides of the milky way, which cut through. It remained dark in other directions for another hour.
There was a bit of high cloud in the sky around 5 am. Also a contrail. I tried to catch M109 as it rose above the trees, but in a race against the dawn, the dawn won. By the time i was ready to cover up the GWS, it was light enough to see across the field. Fortunately i have a toque to pull over my eyes so I can sleep in the daytime. I covered up the scope after daybreak, as did Jackie, John, Jim, and Kerry.
The HAA is set up near the roll-off roof shed, along with our banners. There's space to shoe-horn in a few more tents. The other members of the contingent are due in today, Thursday.
I was delayed trying to cross the skyway bridge and arrived at Binbrook Conservation Area at about 10 PM. There were already members in the park so i let myself in by operation of the combination lock, drove with lights on to the top of the hill, then put them out to drive the rest of the way, with a tiny flash of the hi-beams a couple of times to make sure i was not driving off the road. Hmmm. I am thinking small tea-lights along the road might guide drivers along that last section.
By then John, Brian and Gavino had all set up scopes, and were looking at Jupiter. My laser pointer was a big hit, allowing John to point out a number of DSO's and other features of the sky. This was first light for Brian's scope, so we had to plan for some kind of mishap, which seems to always accompany first light events.
The Milky Way was easy to see, but there was some ominous fog on Harrison road as i approached the park. Pretty soon, while looking for M22 in Sagittarius, Ann noticed it was remarkably hard to find. The answer was that dew had formed on the corrector plate of Gavino's telescope, and for him the evening was over. We discussed various dew-busting strategies, including taking the scope into the car and letting the heater blow on it for a while, but without a dew shield, it would just dew over again immediately, so it was time to pack it up.
Fortunately, i had my tripod and 15x70 binoculars handy, and we were able to poke around Sagittarius for a few DSO's including M22 and M16 in the same frame. The lineup at my binoculars got pretty long with all 8 people at the park queuing at one point.
At about midnight, defeated by dew, we packed up and headed for Tim Hortons where, for a change, all the donuts had not yet been discarded. I went home with the intention to buy a 12v hair dryer for dew busting in time for the upcoming Black Forest Star Party next week in Pennsylvania. I failed on that count, but i will get a low wattage hair dryer and plug it into my power tank as the next best thing.
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