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So I've been at this dark sky outing for the last few days. Greg Marshall invited a handful of imagers from the Rose City Astronomers and we have a good turnout here. It's so odd to me being at a star party and everyone is imaging. I have my 16" Dob with me an I've been taking in some wonderful views while the camera is shooting away... one other imager was using his Edge HD 11 for visual as well as imaging, so I wasn't completely alone absorbing photons into my eyeballs!

I had a brilliant plan of shooting 3 hours of Rho Ophiuchi/Antares region each night for 4 panels of a nice mosaic.

Packing

I figured since I haven't done anything since the last star party over a year ago, everything I need is in the RV already. Ummm.. yeah. I get onsite and realize I don't have my imaging laptop. I do have my work laptop, so I was able to get the software all set up and I'm back in business.

Due to the forecast for quite strong winds, I have a wind blocker that I always bring. It takes about 60 bolts to put it all together and I forgot the cordless drill to speed it up that process. Kind of a pain to turn all of those bolts with a screwdriver. It seems like maybe the RV will block the wind enough, so I bail on putting that thing together.

Hmmm.. it's getting cold and I have no jacket in here.. I thought for sure I had a jacket in the RV. I guess not. Evenings are a bit chilly without it.

After realizing I'm missing another handful of minor things that make life more comfortable in the middle of nowhere, all of which are on my star party checklist (which of course, I didn't print off this time) I realize I need to print it and reference it *every* time!

Shooting the Panels

First night went perfect. Couldn't have been better except maybe a longer night for more integration time.

Second night: PHD crashing, guiding messing up, moisture in the air, softer seeing... panel #2 looks terrible in comparison. This is a problem since I only have 4 nights to get 4 panels. I don't really have time to re-acquire a panel.

Third night: Much better seeing conditions, but I should have reset my polar alignment because it's clear that I've had some settling of the tripod legs in the dirt and polar alignment is a bit off. RA is decent, but Dec is oscillating nearly a pixel in either direction. Sooooo.. third panel is also compromised.

Additionally, as I see the full 4 panel framing coming together I realize the entire thing needs rotated about 30 degrees. So the overall framing of the mosaic is pretty lame. The only other time I did one of these, I mocked it up in Photoshop and made sure my panels were exactly what I wanted. This time I eyeballed it.. oops.

Tonight is the last night and I think I'm going to re-polar align, then shoot the second panel again and just do a 2 panel with Rho and M4.

Lagoon and Trifid

Last night after finishing the 3rd panel, I moved the scope east a bit and grabbed M8/M20. But.. because I didn't want to rotate my camera or anything and I was guessing at where NGC6559 was (due to complete spontaneity) I cut it off.. LOL. So even though that shot is decent, the framing is pretty bad.

Now I'm remembering why I spent so much time planning each shot of my entire outing ahead of time. Haha.

Oh well, I think I'll do better in July assuming I go out in July. Then there is the 5 night star party in August - both of which I will indeed plan more.

Here is the gallery for this outing

Full Gallery Here



-Neil

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Comment by Neil Heacock on June 16, 2015 at 2:07pm

Thank you Frank. It was a real treat to be out again.

-Neil

Comment by Frank Headley on June 16, 2015 at 1:01pm

Nice work for just a few nights capture!

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