Monday, May 21, 2012

My Most Productive Dark-Run Ever !

Well, what a fantastic weekend. The opportunity was taken and I am happy to report that I have secured 18 long exposures over four nights / mornings with a total exposure time of 12 hours and 40 minutes, all with hand corrected guiding no less. The John Henry of astrophotographers perhaps.

This included:

A four frame east-west panorama featuring Libra through Sagittarius using the 165mm @ f/4.8 and 40 minute exposures.

Two (2) three frame east-west panoramas featuring Scorpius through Sagittarius using the 200mm @ f/5.6 and 45 minute exposures.

A two frame panorama featuring the Prancing Horse (Pipe Nebula +) and the Messier 8 region in Sagittarius using the 200mm @ f/5.6 and 45 minute exposures and another set with the 200mm @ f/6.7 and 60 minute exposures.

Three exposures of Sharpless 2-27 in Southern Ophiuchus: 30 and 40 minutes @ f/4, and 60 minutes exposure @ f/5.6

Single exposures of the constellation's Lyra, Corona Borealis, and Hercules using the 200mm @ f/4 or f/5.6 with 30 minutes exposures.

All exposures on E200 and will be pushed +1.5 stops.

The observatory on the first night of imaging during the May dark run.

Sky conditions were above average, except for a few clouds on Friday morning during the final minutes of the last exposure.

Sky Quality Meter readings revealed sky darkness levels in the 21.56 to 21.70 mags/sq-arc-sec range on all three nights. Flirting with Bortle 2. Stars of magnitude 7.2 or fainter were seen on the last morning with only moderate effort. Brocchi's cluster appeared as a star cluster to the unaided eye and not a nebulous patch. The Pipe Nebula and other associated dark nebulae that form the "Prancing Horse" were very distinct to the unaided eye. Touring this region with 7x50 binocs was a real treat. Almost all the dark nebulae seen in photographs were visible in the binoculars. The dark streamers heading over to Rho-Oph were visible in binocs and strongly suspected to the eye alone. Simply amazing.

A little tired after the first three nights!  Thankfully the equipment worked flawlessly.

The results should be among my best work yet and the films are heading to Color Services as I write this. When I receive the films on Wednesday I will review the exposures, but I have done this long enough to know I have succeeded here, and to think I got all this done just before (nearly) the Moon turned new!

Now, to get some sorely needed sleep!

That being said, I have on the agenda for next weekend a complete tour of these same regions as captured with Acros 100. The Moon will set by midnight on both nights of the coming weekend. This is fun, like shooting fish in a barrel!

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