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March, 2010:

M104 Sombrero Galaxy from Tierra Del Sol

Image Location and Date: SDAA site at Tierra Del Sol on February 13th
Object: M106 Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: Omni XLT 150 Newtonian
Imaging FL: 750mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 4 x 300 sec ISO 3200 (20min)
Calibration: Darks and Flats
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guided with PHD, stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

M109 from Tierra Del Sol

M109, a bright example of a barred spiral galaxy.

I love how many little background galaxies are visible in the hi res version of this image. All those faint smudges of light? Galaxies.

Image Location and Date: SDAA site at Tierra Del Sol on February 13th
Object: M109 Galaxy Ursa Major
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: Omni XLT 150 Newtonian
Imaging FL: 750mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 8 x 300 sec ISO 3200 (40min)
Calibration: Darks and Flats
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guided with PHD, stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

New Rosette image from Palomar Mountain

I’m still really not satisfied with anything I’ve got on this object yet, here is another attempt. I was able to combine last weeks data from Tierra Del Sol’s with last night’s Palomar session. I need to image this at least one more time to add more data before it sets until next winter. So far I’ve got 1 hour 15 minutes of data on it at 3200 ISO. 4 minute exposures.

Nebulosity in Cygnus – Tierra Del Sol

I actually stayed up late enough to see Cygnus rise. Time sure flies. This is part of the North American Nebula (NGC7000).

Image Location and Date: SDAA site at Tierra Del Sol on March 13th
Object: North American Nebula in Cygnus
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: Omni XLT 150 Newtonian
Imaging FL: 750mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 4 x 300 sec ISO 3200 (20min)
Calibration: Darks and Flats
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guided with PHD, stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

Rosette Nebula from Tierra Del Sol

40 Minute exposure. It was getting very close to the horizon by the time I had all the bugs worked out of my alignment so I was battling the neighbors porch light. Either way, it still looks better than my last attempt at this object from Palomar Mountain (see below) as far as star trails go. The nebula in the Palomar version is much brighter as it was directly overhead.  If I’m lucky I’ll be able to get to this again next weekend, otherwise I’ll have to wait until next December.

Palomar Attempt from earlier this year:

M13 Hercules Cluster from Tierra Del Sol

I tried shooting an hours worth here but the wind ruined so many exposures that I only got 10 minutes at ISO3200 . I’ll come back to this in a month or two.

M44/Praesepe From San Juan Capistrano

This is a short exposure I did with the Praesepe cluster a few days ago. I was staying at my parents house for a few days, checking to see how much darker the skies are there compared to where I live in Vista. Not that much darker unless you are looking to the east towards Ortega Highway. However, I was able to leave my telescope unattended in the backyard while it was imaging which was a rare treat. Can’t do that here for fear of it getting stolen while I go to the bathroom or something. It’s quite nice being able to watch television yet still feel productive while your imaging setup does all the work.

30×1 Minute exposure, ISO1600 (usually I do ISO 3200 but I wanted to see if I was missing out on something. I wasn’t).

Site: Palomar Mountain Turnout

This is a local spot for me, near the top of Palomar Mountain on the first 1/4 mile down East Grade Road. Over 5000 feet in elevation, the seeing here is usually excellent. Light pollution is getting pretty bad in the surrounding areas, but it’s not uncommon for a marine layer to shroud the cities below, preventing their light pollution from spilling up into the sky.

This spot is just a large turnout. No power, no facilities, just a turnout on the side of the road large enough so that there is no chance of any car hitting you and sending you over the edge.

GPS: 33° 18′ 38.96″ N 116° 51′ 44.29″ W

Google Maps

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Site: Tierra Del Sol

This is the site used by the San Diego Astronomy Association. It’s about an hour’s drive east of the city of San Diego in a very dark area just a few thousand feet from the Mexican border. As a contributing member of the SDAA I get access to the site whenever I want. It features electrical outlets everywhere, restrooms with warm water, a warming room complete with microwaves, refrigerator, coffee maker and a little library.  I usually set up on the public pads (in photos), but members can purchase their own private pad or observatory on the site.

For more information including weather conditions and driving directions visit SDAA’s TDS Page.

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New Focuser!

I just picked up a lovely JMI EV3N Focuser from OPT for my Celestron Omni 150 Newt. Much nicer than the stock unit. (more…)