Monday, November 13, 2017



First Light with The LX-850
First light for my new scope was a three-minute exposure of The Ring Nebula. I had never taken suck an obscenely long exposure. Although the image was poorly focused and light pollution overwhelms all but the brightest stars, the tracking was great. With this initial success, I looked forward to creating some beautiful photographs.

Throughout the summer, I experimented with the scope under my brightly-lit suburban skies. Believe me, this scope has its share of idiosyncrasies. Moreover, Polaris is not visible from my home observing site making polar alignment a challenge. Consequently, most of my observations from home included the well-placed planets Jupiter and Saturn and the Moon.

Saturn
Jupiter
I was fortunate to travel to the club’s observing site in Alpha Ridge three times. In fact, I first polar aligned the set-up at Alpha Ridge two months after I purchased the scope. Of course, polar aligning a new instrument brought its own list of idiosyncrasies. Likewise, all catadioptric telescopes should be culminated each time they are moved. Eventually, with the help of the Cloudy Nights Forum ( https://www.cloudynights.com/ ) , I felt confident to productively use my new scope.

October began with me never having really used the new scope under a dark sky. At night I could almost hear the poor telescope bucking around the garage trying to get out from beneath the light dome above the Baltimore-Washington Metro Area.  

Ironically, a high school friend also purchased a new telescope this summer. He lives in Orlando, and I was able to fly down for a night to meet him and his new scope in a State Park close to The Everglades. While he worked, with his new scope, I occupied myself with my camera and tripod grabbing some quick shots of The Summer Milky Way.. Although we had a great time, the brilliant glow of The Milky Way made me miss my scope. Shortly thereafter, we planned to meet “midway” between our two homes.
Milky Way from Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Florida

We settled on The Stephen C. Foster State Park ( http://gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster ) deep in The Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.  I am not sure how Southern Georgia qualifies as “midway” between Florida and Maryland. But, my friend had just returned from The Caribbean with an ample supply of sipping rum, so I asked no questions.

Last year, Stephen C. Foster State Park was designated a Dark Sky Park meaning we could look forward to dark skies. I secured six days off of work, packed my 300-lb. telescope into my tiny two-door Fiat and began the long drive south.


Introduction


  This is The Sculpture Galaxy. Also known as The Silver Dollar or NGC 253, it never ventures more than 24° above our southern horizon. I doubt we could even point The Watson toward it. Therefore, I had to travel to Southern Georgia to get this shot. Although this image does have its share of issues, I believe it represents my best attempt at astrophotography to date. Hopefully, my contributions to this blog will be informative as well as entertaining as we journey through the universe together.

  Although I have been photographing the heavens since the 1980’s with all manner of camera/telescope combinations, I have much to learn. In a very real way, I am just beginning a new hobby. This summer, I purchased my first telescope designed for astrophotography, a Meade LX-850 telescope. With my trusty Canon 60D DSLR camera and new scope, I am ready to enter the world of astrophotography.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

There's nothing here yet. Check back around the middle of November 2017.

First Light with The LX-850 First light for my new scope was a three-minute exposure of The Ring Nebula. I had never taken suck an ...