Dark Site Report 27N by Charles Lillo
Date: Monday, July 7th, 2008

The decision
Monday afternoon I was driving home from a tough day at the office (not really) when I noticed what seemed to be the color blue in the sky. Surely this was just a mirage, as we all know this is the time of the dark ages. That was all I needed and I quickly fired off a text message to Bennett “27N?” His reply was quick, “I was just thinking the same thing”. With that we were set.

 

The Site
This was my first trip to 27N and it will not be my last. The site is a short 15 minute drive from my house in Davie and the sky is noticeably darker. I arrived first and Bennett rolled up a few minutes later. We set up next to the canal or next to the “critters” as Bennett put it.

The Target
The sky was clear to start but as luck would have it, a very heavy band of clouds began to move in from the east, we soon realized this was going to be a short evening.

My target was M15, no real reason other than that was the first cluster target in the “guided tour”. I’m still getting used to my set up and was amazed to find the target dead center in my FOV, I’m not sure why, it happens all the time but I still get excited when I find something on the first try.

The focus
I’m using DSLRfocus and still need a lot of practice, but good reading after 3 or 4 test frames and made the decision that I should begin only because the sky was starting to close in on us.

Exposures
I took a 30 second un-guided test shot and found no significant trailing so I bumped it up to 60 seconds, still not trailing.

Set and forget it
I decided on 10 exposures at 130 seconds with a 30 second pause between shots and my ISO was 1000. Click…

Soon after Bennett says “do you feel rain?” OMG no way. Upon closer inspection of my Blackberry Accuweather satellite image, we were good, but it (the weather) was getting close and we decided to pack it in. This decision came easy for Bennett because he was having USB issues and never did get going. I on the other hand I was in the best focus I have yet to achieve and my polar alignment was pretty good being able to keep my stars round after 130 seconds of un-guided exposures. Oh well, reluctantly and at the last possible moment I started packing up. I did mange to get 3 good frames and 3 darks. Here is the result.

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Long story short - 27N is very close to my house about a 15 minute drive and it yields a full sky with a lot less light pollution than Fox or my driveway, so I will be back!

p.s. - The bugs weren’t bad, and aside from the chirping frogs I saw no sign of any critters. Alligators feed in the daytime right?

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