I decided to pack enough supplies for a four night trip and I’m glad I did. It is starting to look like summer again, the days were in the 90’s, nights in the 60’s, and the seeing was good all four nights. The first night is always a little stressful because the mount needs to be set up, balanced, and polar aligned. I am currently using Pempro for polar alignment and I like the program because it allows me to drift align with camera in place, no more swapping out eyepieces or the live view dslr camera. All went well and I had the primary mount ready for imaging in about an hour. The first target was M20, the Trifid Nebula. It was low so I waited until about 10:30pm and let it rip. I did a meridian flip around 2am, set up another sequence, and hit the sack.
The next day I set up the other mount with the solar scope to capture some video. Right now I am using the Lunt 60 with double etalon and a DMK51 mono camera. I love the DMK51 camera because it has a big chip and I can get the entire solar disk on the chip. I also like to make 6 panel mosaics with the 2x Barlow and closeups with the 3x barlow. Not a lot going on with the sun today but I was able to post some images under the Solar Image tab so check them out.
The second night I decided to go for M8, the Lagoon Nebula. I had to wait until 10:30pm as the object was low in the sky. I did a meridian flip around 2am, set up another sequence, and hit the hay. I was really tired that night, the second night always gets me.
I continued the solar imaging on the second day. The sun is an ever-changing object and some days are outstanding and others meh, today was meh. Still I was able to get a couple of keepers and they are under the Solar Image tab.
The third night I went for M16, the Eagle Nebula. Again it was low so I waited til around 10:30pm and let ‘er rip, did a meridian flip around 2am, and then got some sleep. I forgot to mention this but I really like sleeping in the truck bed right next to the imaging setup. It allows me to be close so I can hear any alarms but thankfully no alarms this trip!
The third day I noticed the wind picked up a bit and it showed on the live view video of the sun. The disk edge looked like someone was shaking out a towel! I tried some video anyway but the finished images were poor. I could not align any of the 6 panel mosaics because some of the panel blending areas showed crisp disk areas right next to fuzzy disk areas. Also, the closeups were effected so I just ditched everything. It is strange though because some days I have conditions like this and get good images but today was not one of them. Oh well, the days are long now so I didn’t worry too much about wasting a couple of hours of capture and processing. I had plenty of time to kill!
The final night I decided to go for M17, the Swan Nebula. Just like the other nights the object was low and I waited until around 10:30pm to begin. Like the other nights I did the meridian flip around 2am and then hit the wrapper.
I woke up around 5am and made a pot of coffee. I started tearing everything down right away because I was mentally done. Four nights of around 4 hours sleep per night had taken its toll and I was ready for the trip home. I love this time of morning though and after everything was loaded up I took a few moments to take it all in.
It was a good trip as I had four good nights and two good days of data. I will post everything shortly.