Friday, April 29, 2011

An all nighter

For several weeks now I've been Jonesing to take my portable astrophotography system out and send some "quality time" with one of my favorite astrophotography subjects - the Rho Ophiuchi region of the Milky Way. I had to wait for the moon to wan enough to get dark skies, the weather to be clear and the winds to be mild to get the images I wanted.

The weather forecast for this weekend looked promising except for the winds. A Red Flag warning was out for Friday and Saturday with gusts expected to be 40 mph - not a good prospect for my little Takahashi mount. Thursday night looked like the best option - so I packed up the van and headed to Kitt Peak.

My target wasn't available above the horizon until after midnight so I spent the early hours of the evening taking calibration data for the later targets. Flats, and Darks were finished by 20:30 and so I decided to spend the remaining three hours until "Rho rise" getting a deep image of the Virgo cluster of galaxies centered around M87. The mount held my two Canon 5D Mark II DSLRs one with a 300mm F/2.8 L and the other used a 400mm F/2.8 L lens. Working at ISO 800 and at F/4.0, I made 36 five minute subexposures of the field - below is the result - a 3 hour exposure of the region around M87.

At 00:30 I started a 4 hour sequence on Rho Oph with both cameras. By 4:30 the sequences were finshed and I packed up for home - arriving shortly after sunrise. My first "all nighter" with my little portable system. Click on the images for a larger view.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Arivaca Aviation

Went to Arivaca to photograph Hummers today with Frank. Met a nice couple with a nice restuarant for the little fellows - here is a peek at the colorful beasties. Click on the images for a larger view. Thanks Bill and Rosemary.

Monday, April 4, 2011

M51 from the backyard

Well it finally cleared up tonight so I could test my 6" refractor and autoguider. It was a little brezzy but it didn't seem to affect the setup. I used ISO 800 and the telescope at F/9 for an effective focal length of about 1370mm. 8 ten minute exposures combined to produce the image below - taken through a LPR filter of course (my backyard is VERY light poluted). Click on the images for a larger view.

Below is a crop at 100% . . .

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Long Glass

Well - finally got all the stuff I needed to test the 6" refractor's suitability to astrophotgraphy. I ran a couple of preliminary tests on M3 last night - five ten minute long exposures at 1370mm using a newly acquired Lodestar autoguider. Results were extremely promising. Stay tuned.