Observing Log 5/4/2007

Last night was a beautifully clear night and I did not have to go to work this morning.
Recently I ordered a SKYSHED POD and decided to spend the night in my very own
back yard. This was a useful experiment as it showed me what obstacles I needed to
overcome before setting up the POD, and it allowed me to determine placement of
the POD.

Actually, I was quite impressed with the sky at my place in Amherst Township.
Even with the neighbor's lights and the full Moon overhead I was able to get some
decent photos.

I started low in the west and said goodbye for this year to  the mighty hunter, Orion.

From there I moved south and tried to get shots of the Sombrero and the Leo Trio but
the neighbor's tree to the south west  wasn't about to let that happen. That reminded me of
my purpose and I dutifully walked the yard again looking at angles and elevations and site
lines for some of my favorite objects.

Next, I removed the SCT from my mount and attached my Orion 127mm f/5.0.
I fired off a few quick shots and was quickly convinced that The Orion would not be going into
the POD. While I've had excellent results with it under dark skies, the wide fov and fast optics
resulted in pinkish/orange ugly washed out mercury vapor images.

Next I attached my 30 year old Meade 8" f/7.5.  I really love this scope. The view in it is unparralled.
Meade hand ground the odd sized mirror and secondary for me back in the day when they
were actually hand grinding and providing custom built optics and telescopes.

First photographic light in many years was soon travelling through my tube at breakneck speed.
(186,000 miles per second!)

I decided to start simple as I re-learned how to balance the long tube and get accostomed
to using the straight thru finder and awkward sideways focuser on the front of the tube.
It was like riding a bike. My long hours in the past with this scope paid off and after a few
minutes I was hopping around from star field to star field.

My first image pleased me immensely. I forgot about the effects of a spider in an optical
system. Here's Arcturus at zero magnitude and her companion at 3.7 mag.

From there I moved to something a little more difficult. Lyra had just risen over the trees to
the northeast and I hadn't seen the Ring Nebula in awhile, so I decided to make it my next target.

I only shot prime focus on this outing. Later on I'll get into eyepiece projection, etc.
By this point it was getting pretty late, so I decided to capture one more image before hauling
everything back inside.

M13, the Hercules cluster  actually rose ahead of M57 but did not get out of the tree in my front
yard until about 2:30am. I decided to make it my last attempt before retiring.

So, that was it for the  night.  I learned a lot last night.  I learned that you can see and
take photos even with a full moon in the sky. I learned that you can take digital images
even in a heavily light polluted area and even with a full moon in the sky.
I remembered that a good newtonian is a joy to work with and even performs well in
less than optimal conditions.
(Of course I have a Losmandy G-11 mount underneath. Add sliding/rotating rings and
proper counterbalancing and  this big monster is sturdy as a rock.)

I also watched the sky rotate around  my site and was able to determine the optimal
spot for my POD.

The following night I went back out and took a couple of photos before clouds
rolled in and shut me down.

Here's Albireo:

And a couple of shots of M5: