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.