Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bear Mountain astronomy retreat!

It did clear up Saturday night, but it was 11PM by the time it was clear enough to start setting up my equipment for photography. There were clouds on the backside of the front that the CSC didn't predict. It was clear during dinner, though. We ate like kings and had a great meal!

Early on in the evening it was partly cloudy and we saw the Hubble Space Telescope pass by low in the Southern sky!

It took me till 11:42 to get the first image. I had to struggle to remember how to do time exposures with the Nikon after a whole year of inactivity (yikes!) because I discovered that I did not have my camera's manual with me.

After a time I did figure it out and got some nice images, though only with the camera mounted directly on the Atlas mount. It was very windy, so I couldn't mount the telescope and manually guide the camera with the guiding eyepiece like I wanted to do. I had to make do with the polar alignment I had (which turned out to be pretty good). This is my M31 image, which was unguided!

Photo by Richard Drumm

I did almost without exception 10 minute exposures at ISO 1600. I have worked on the images as much as I should. My technique needs refinement, but that's the fun of it! There's much more to do and learn, I wouldn't want to do it all right off the bat, then there'd be nothing more to do and I'd get bored. Nobody else did any photography at the retreat. Wes had his short tube refractor set up as it was somewhat immune to the wind. Ed didn't set up his large scope due to the wind. The winds continued all night and into the next day.

There was a good bit of work with Celestron Sky Scouts and a good time was had by all. Luke Langjoen played his guitar (with cold fingers) for a while, playing songs he wrote himself! Wes & I sat up for a good long while and watched Orionid meteors till I finished up with the photography. We must have seen at least 30 or so total. Then he & I went down the hill for a midnight snack (all the Fan Mtn doughnuts got eaten!) and sleep in the heated bunkhouse.

Paul & Carla Quenneville & I went to the NRAO Green Bank Open House on Sunday and ran the club CaK PST side-by-side with my Ha PST on my Atlas mount. Pretty snazzy! I didn't take a photo of the rig, though. Life is good (for me) when I do EPO with kids!

Those of you who didn't come missed a good one, even though there were some clouds earlier on in the evening. True, it was windy & cold, but we astronomers are a tough lot and we had dressed for the elements. The skies back home just don't compare with the skies over there, they literally pale by comparison!

Listened to George Hrab's Geologic podcasts all the way out there and all the way back. How frakkin cool is that? Very!
More later, especially after I process some images to post on Flickr and link to from here.


Ivan3man said...

That's a nice picture that you have achieved of M31. I used to be able to see it with the naked eye from here in London, UK, when I was a kid, back in the early 70's, but now I can't even see M31 with 10x50 binoculars due to the bloody light pollution -- Aurora Londinlis!

Nite Sky Girl said...

what a nice blog you have

Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum said...

Thanks for the nice comments! I hope you enjoyed the image! I'll try again next summer when we have yet another retreat. These are the darkest skies on the east coast that I can easily reach.

Nite Sky Girl, you might have some skies near you up in Canada that are worth taking some pix. Have you tried it yet?