2-4 July 2005
The weather forecast for 2-4 July was Clear. I packed up the Toyota Prius Hybrid with my LXD55-8"SC and took off on Saturday morning for the eight-hour drive to Oracle Observatory. It stayed clear but hot through the entire two days. The first night I was up until morning twilight started. It was exciting to see a small waning crescent moon and the Pleiades rising over the hill to the east.
For this trip I did mostly work on some Deep Sky Object astrophotography with a Nikon D70 DSLR. I also did some piggyback work with the Nikon D70 DSLR mounted on the 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain.
Sunset the first evening showed great promise for a great night:
I was able to capture a photo of the conjunction of Saturn (left) and Venus (right) as the twilight deepened:
First up is M13, the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. This image was a 60 second exposure at ISO 800 taken at Prime Focus of the 8"SC. Some trailing is evident; I will be working on that for future astrophotography with the 8"SC Prime Focus. This image was cropped and some editing was done in Photoshop.
Next is M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra. It was also a 60 second exposure at ISO 1600, cropped and edited in Photoshop. Some trailing during the exposure is also evident. But the central star can be seen.
Of course, the Milky Way remains a primary attraction of the dark skies at Oracle Observatory. This is a 5 minute and 30 second exposure (single image, not two stacked) piggyback at ISO 800 with the Nikon zoom lens set for 28mm (some telephoto). Some editing was done in Photoshop.
Lastly for this trip is M31, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda. It was also a piggyback exposure with three images (one 5 minute and two 10 minute exposures at ISO 800) stacked using Lynkeos. It was cropped and edited in Photoshop.
Since I have not been taking my laptop computer (to view and edit images) with me on the trips, so far the trips have been mostly for test astrophotography and visual work. But now that I'm learning what is required for astrophotography with my still new Nikon D70 DSLR I expect to begin getting more and better astrophotography.
This trip was exhausting due to spending two days in the Arizona heat, getting somewhat dehydrated, and being stung by a yellow jacket that decided to curl up with me while I was sleeping on Sunday. I had hoped to see the Deep Impact arrival at Comet Tempel 1 but missed it.
The next trip is tentatively planned for 30 July and I will be taking my LXD55-8"SC, modified for improved guiding during Prime Focus astrophotography. More details next time.
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