Fred's Observing Report:
Greetings to all:
Our session at "Area 27" tonight was very pleasing and even somewhat productive. Everything went quite well, and the three pictures I took turned out great. Click on any of the images to launch a full sized version.
My evening went something like this:
6:00 PM. Leave work for home.
6:30 PM. Grab a quick bite for supper.
6:45 PM. Start stacking telescope equipment into the car.
7:15 PM. Drive out to the semi-dark site at the edge of the Everglades.
7:45 PM. Arrive at destination and begin setting up telescope.
8:45 PM. Achieve polar alignment and take a few test images.
9:00 PM. Start imaging M42 with the 14" at f/3.3. A half-hour of thirty second exposures will suffice.
9:30 PM. Unpack the brand new William's Optics APO refractor and piggyback it onto my scope.
9:50 PM. Initiate a one-hour sequence of exposures of M42. This one turned out to be my best picture ever of the nebula.
10:55 PM. Attempt to image M45. This picture didn't work out due to a light covering of haze in the area.
11:10 PM. Aim the telescope at Alnitak and start an hour long sequence of the Flame and the Horsehead in the same field of view. This picture also turned out pretty good.
12:20 AM. Slowly start dismantling and stowing my telescope.
12:40 AM. Start to capture a sequence of dark frames to process along with the evening's pictures.
1:20 AM. Pack up my camera and stow the remainder of my gear.
1:40 AM. Head for home.
2:30 AM. Begin re-processing the night pictures.
4:30 AM. Compose this letter.
4:50 AM. Time for bed (at last).
Got a call from Fred on Thursday night...
"Hey - it's totally clear out and the Moon doesn't come up till 11pm - want to head out tonight?"
We've been plagued with clouds and wind for quite a while now, so this question is actually a no-brainer for me. However, since it's a weekday, I didn't want to travel very far, so we picked a spot off of US27 very close to home and agreed to activate our "calling tree" to let folks know we were headed out.
All in all, we had five guys out (Fred, Myself, Don, Manuel and Bennett) on a very nice night. I took shots of M41, M46 and IC405, but didn't get enough of IC405 before the clouds asserted themselves and the evening was done.
So here's my favorite from this session - the image of M46 - this is the uncropped full frame from the camera sized to fit here - click on the image to load the full sized version of this shot (WARNING: it's a ~1.7 meg "full quality" jpeg). Check out the teeny tiny P-Neb near the center of the upper edge - that was a pleasant suprise!
Camera: SBIG ST2000-XCM
Telescope: Orion 80mmED
Mount: Orion Atlas
10 eight minute autoguided frames were summed for this image
6 eight minute darks were applied
No flat or bias frames were taken or applied
Captured with CCDSoft
Processed with CCDStack
Finishing work, rotation to place North "up" and captioning done in PhotoShop
Hope you like it - I really enjoyed doing it!