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Five wonderful nights at Indian Trail Spring. Bortle 1 goodness!
Although the first two nights were spotted with clouds and haze that made imaging pretty pointless, so I left them covered. Poor guys sat for 2 nights not even polar aligned. Friends and neighbors tried their hand at imaging, but I'm not sure if anyone got anything decent. It did make me wish I brought my lenses though as some haze can be a friend for wide-field imaging as it makes what can be appealing diffused halos around the brighter stars.
However, during those first two nights I was able to use the 16" Dob to get some wonderful views through sucker holes and the haze didn't bother me that much. Perhaps it dimmed the lights a bit, but as long as there was nothing too bright in the field, it was hardly noticeable.
On Wednesday, things cleared and I was able to uncover the the imaging scopes and take some pictures while I observed. I really enjoy soaking in deep space galaxies from hundreds of millions of light years away while the sound of my shutters click away at the other end of my site.
One of my favorite views this trip was the Pisces Cloud galaxy group. I observed down to 15.5 magnitude. I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to faint fuzzies that I can barely see, but it just continues to blow me away every time I see another one.
The Perseid meteor shower had some nice displays for us. It's so funny when half the people all of a sudden cut the silence with an "Ooooh!" or a "Whoa!" or maybe "Wow!" followed by loads of mumbles of folks who missed the spectacle. Maybe one of these years I'll put out a scope and a wide field lens and capture them through the night.
A particularly special treat this year was an incredible display of a large bright waving curtain almost like a ribbon and a sort of multiple pinnacles of tall moving brightening and dimming green aurora. I've only seen it in pictures look quite like that. Sure we've seen some glow here at the 45 Parallel, but this had detail and that shifting brightness you see in time lapse captures from Alaska and such. It was simply remarkable. I pulled out my phone to see if I could capture a picture of it, and I didn't think about my phone's ridiculously bright LED. As it lit up the other astronomers sites and everyone started yelling at me I instantly put it down and joined in the grumbling at whoever the insensitive loser was who lit up the camp... but shhhhh... don't tell anyone it was me!
As the week went on, the sky got better... until the HUGE 55,000 acre fire only 60 miles or something away. It smoked us out for a night. I decided to image through it, but nothing turned out that great.
Saturday night was the best night of the week. Clear, dark, mostly steady, cold.. it was great! As I packed up Sunday afternoon I could see that the night was going to be excellent. Better then Saturday most likely. Doesn't it figure you have to leave when it just starts getting really good?!
All in all it was wonderful in spite of the haze, clouds, and smoke. I did come away with some good pictures, memories of excellent views, good times with my daughter and some old astro-buddies, as well as meeting some new friends.
Gallery From This Outing
See full gallery here