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I've been working around the clock these days, quite literally. For nearly 3 years I've not had a chance to go to a dark sky outing, or take any pictures. The gear is getting dusty and my knowledge of how to run it getting rusty.

My friend Scott is moving to Nashville in a few weeks and wanted to go to Indian Trail Spring one last time before he goes. I needed a break bad. Get some rest, get some viewing in, and get some killer bro time. The timing for going to ITS couldn't have been better. We took his RV, his 18" Dob, and I brought just about nothing but some 10x50 binoculars and a camera to shoot some pics of the location and my friend before we part for who knows how long.

Day 1:
Upon arrival I took a nap. After dark, I couldn't stay up. The sky was clear, the seeing was fantastic, but by 2:30am I had to turn in - sore and exhausted. Scott stayed up observing til dawn.

Day 2
The next day, still just trying to wind down from my hectic and insane work schedule, after a full night's sleep, I took two 2 hour naps during the day. Night fell, the sky was clear, we started observing again and I decided to put the camera on a tripod and shoot some 15 second subs of the Galactic Center with the 50mm Nikkor. Using the intervalometer I told it to take 99 frames (the most it will let me shoot).

This night, I was in a reclining camping chair and fell asleep under the stars for a short nap. When I woke up and opened my eyes to the magnificent canopy of stars it was incredibly majestic. I got up, shifted the camera a bit and laid down again under the stars. Three naps I took. I could hardly make it to the scope or binocs to grab some views. Again, by 2:30am I had to crash for real and slept another 8 hours. Scott observed til dawn.

Day 3

Starting to finally feel rested and gaining some energy, I took one nap during the day and felt really great. Scott made us some amazing bratwursts and I was ready for the night. We looked at old favorites like M13, M5, M3, M53, M74, NGC 7331, NGC 4565, NGC 891, the amazing Pisces Cloud galaxy cluster and loads of others. We saw some new targets like Abell 39 and Hercule's Sweat Drop (umm.. okay), and a real treat was Triton the largest satellite of Neptune. We observed all night long and I decided to shoot a proper mosaic of the Galactic Core. I shot a few other things, but they were random and not sure they'll make it into the gallery for this outing.

We observed til dawn and then some. Checking out Mars which is in opposition and incredibly huge, but surprisingly low surface detail. We tried a few filters and polarizer, but I think we really needed an aperture mask.

I was sad to go home since I was finally feeling better and ready to have some serious observing sessions, but alas.

I might add to this post and the gallery if any of the other images I shot turn out. The 4 panel mosaic of the Galactic Center turned out quite nice considering it was spur of the moment, fixed tripod mounted, 15 second exposures and no calibration frames.

Gallery for this outing:

http://astrogab.ning.com/photo/albums/indian-trail-spring-july-2018

-Neil

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