This trip to Cherry Springs State Park promised an amazing clear stretch but was marred by dense smoke obscuring much of the sky from the wildfires raging in CA and other parts of the US.
We’ve had far too many rainy days followed by isolation and the closure of astronomy parks and related facilities. Even if it cleared, we have nowhere to go. So here’s a quick reminder of the winter nebula that are leaving now not to be seen until next year. I wish I had time to do a mosaic and capture the whole nebula but I didn’t. It truly is a LARGE nebula. This image is 2.4 degrees across and could hold more than 18 full moons. (The moon varies between about 29′20″ – 34′6″ in size)
IC 1805 / Sharpless 190, more commonly known as the Heart Nebula, lies approximately 7,500 light years from Earth. This data set was comprised of 43x20min Ha, 23x20min O[III], and 24x20min S[II] for a total exposure time of 30 hours over several nights in November 2019.
After missing the BFSP at Cherry Springs State Park, PA last new moon we were anxious to get out for one last hurah for the year. Weather looked great initially from midweek into the weekend but rapidly went downhill as we got closer to the weekend. We did however have an amazingly clear Weds night and clear until 3:00am or so on Thursday.
Friday morning arrived with clouds and slightly warmer temps (no frost) than Thursday morning. The sunrise was spectacular.
I am not a galaxy imager. I’m at home with short refractors imaging large nebula in our own galaxy. Spring and Fall are more or less galaxy season though if you want to be able to image the same object the majority of these longer nights. So I picked out a decent size bright galaxy and dusted off the long f/ratio 5″ refractor and gave it a try. It’s not without it’s problems but nice to see a 28 year old refractor still collecting photons!
We had some great weather for the annual star party at Pickett State Park, TN last new moon. This star party is still young and looking to grow. The park rangers are doing a great job, it’s a great venue for presentations and a great field for observing / photography. I’m not sure why it still remains a hidden gem of sorts.
Overall sky quality, other than some early clouds, was excellent. With SQM measurements around 21.77 mag/arcsec^2 this was the darkest I’ve seen Pickett. I would note too that of the other dark sky sites I routinely visit, this quality of night is nothing to complain about.