I attended the annual Calhoun County Park Star Party (Oct 5-7) for the first time this year. The sky wasn’t the best it could be. Friday and Sat night both had humidity and dew off the charts with variable fog that seemed to slide up and down the hill but never got so high that it killed observing. I can’t help but think that it impaired the images a little but it may have just been the choice of a faint target during a hazy time of year. Sky quality measurements topped and held pretty steady around 21.6 mag/arcsec^2. I’m sure on a crisp night it would be a little darker. While there were some small light domes on the horizon they weren’t hardly worth mentioning in my opinion. The park was wonderful and the staff was so friendly they even prepared a great meal for us on Sat night. In total about 16 people showed for the party from TN, WV, PA, OH, and KY. Special thanks to Larry McHenry for posting info about the star party and turning us onto this event and Calhoun as an observing site. He typically posts updates on Cloudynights star party forum for upcoming Calhoun events.
Since Calhoun is pretty dark I decided to go after a fainter full spectrum object than I could ever do from home. VdB objects (reflection nebulae compiled by Sidney van den Bergh) are great targets when looking for something off the beaten path but aren’t always what I would call showcase objects. VdB 14 and 15 make for a nice parring here in a rich park of the sky in Camelopardalis.
I made the 13 hour trip up to Cherry Springs State Park for the Annual CSSP Star Party hosted by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg PA, Inc. I went up a few days before the star party since it’s always helpful to get a good spot. Those of us that were there early on Monday night were treated to a fabulous night with SQM measurements >21.9! Overall it was an amazing streak of clear weather for PA with a total of 4 imaging nights. I was hoping for one or two so as not to set my expectations too high so I was very pleased with four nights!
I even did a little visual at low power with a 4″ refractor. LDN 1795 (large 50’x50’dark nebula in Scorpius) looked absolutely amazing to me at 19X. First time I had a WOW moment visually.
Just getting around to publishing some pictures from the 2016 Black Forest Star Party at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. What a great stretch of weather for PA! The nights weren’t the darkest or most transparent (SQM 21.4-21.5) nights I’ve had at CSSP but clear and a little murky was way better than the alternative after driving up from Knoxville TN. Had a great time with some old friends and good to see some old club members too.
Had a few imaging problems related to dithering and settle time / settle criteria that made me lose a fair number of shots but I got two images which, I have to be honest, I’m not real pleased with. They are however, more challenging objects, but would have come out better had the sky conditions been closer to the SQM 21.8 that I’ve seen before at CSSP. But, we take whatever quality of clear sky we can get during a pre-planned star party!
Taken 12/5/2015 from Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina. Sky quality was a little hazy early on and deteriorated by morning. SQM readings started around 21.1 and topped out around 21.2 mag/arcsec^2. This has always been a favorite object but I have always struggled processing it. It’s dim, it’s difficult, it always seems soft…. I’d prefer to shoot these dark dusty nebula from a darker site and if I ever get the chance I’ll be coming back to this object.
Another decent night at the AAAP Greene County Dark Sky Site.
NGC 6914 is a reflection nebula nestled amongst the diffuse emission nebula in Cygnus.
Playing around with an 8mm circular fisheye lens as well for an all sky timelapse.
IC 5146 (also Caldwell 19, Sh 2-125, and the Cocoon Nebula) is a reflection/emission nebula and Caldwell object in the constellation Cygnus. The NGC description refers to IC 5146 as a cluster of 9.5 mag stars involved in a bright and dark nebula. The cluster is also known as Collinder 470. It shines at magnitude +10.0/+9.3/+7.2. Its celestial coordinates are RA 21h 53.5m, dec+47° 16′. It is located near the naked-eye star Pi Cygni, the open cluster NGC 7209 in Lacerta, and the bright open cluster M39. The cluster is about 4,000 ly away, and the central star that lights it formed about 100,000 years ago; the nebula is about 12 arcmins across, which is equivalent to a span of 15 light years. When viewing IC 5146, dark nebula Barnard 168 (B168) is an inseparable part of the experience, forming a dark lane that surrounds the cluster and projects westward forming the appearance of a trail behind the Cocoon.
This object was named ‘The Running Man Nebula’ by Texas Astronomical Society member Jason Ware. Approximately 20 years ago his down stairs neighbor looked at the object and said it looked like a running man. He brought this up a TAS club meeting and the name stuck. Now widely accepted as ‘The Running Man’.
IC 405 (also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31) is an emission/reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. Its celestial coordinates are RA 05h 16.2m dec +34° 28′. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae and is located near the emission nebula IC 410, the open clusters M38 and M36, and the naked-eye K-class star Hassaleh. The nebula measures approximately 37.0′ x 19.0′, and lies about 1,500 light-years away. It is believed that the proper motion of the central star can be traced back to the Orion’s Belt area. The nebula is about 5 light-years across.