A splendid night out in the countryside

Last night I spent near my home town – a short 25 minutes drive – to a place I frequently used years back for astronomy. It is a quite dark spot, though the light pollution is still obvious. Nevertheless I tried to go for some deep sky objects, getting as much observation / camera time as possible in the short nights of June.

My list of objects was not too short. All of them were well placed in the sky and really nice to see :-). So here you go:
1) Hercules cluster M13 (Sony A99ii, 800mm f4, 2xTC, 27x120s, ISO3200)
2) Virgo galaxies M60, M87, M90, M100 (Sony A6000mod, 70-200mmf2.8 @ 200mm f4.5, 22x300s, ISO3200)
3) Virgo galaxy M90 – though I intended M87 😉
4) Whirlpool galaxy M51 (Sony A99ii, 800mm f4, 2xTC, 6x360s, ISO3200)
5) Andromeda galaxy M31 (Sony A6000mod, 70-200mm f2.8 @ 200mm f4.5, 5x30s, ISO3200) – I made an error in exposure time, so instead of 5×300 I ended up with 5x30s 🙁
6) Jupiter (I did not pack my planetary imaging camera – so I used the same setup with Sony A99ii and 800mm scope at 1600mm)
7) Saturn (same as Jupiter)

And far too late (at 01:30) I set up my timelapse camera for a night-to-day movie. The milkyway was beautifully placed just above the pasture. The resulting video clip is below.

Star cluster M5 from the city

Finally a couple of cloud free evenings are here! So lets see, what is to see from the city…

From a balcony facing south across a city, there usually is not too much to expect. This time, I chose the star cluster M5, which is quite bright an was not too hard to see in the scope. Sure, it does not hold to a darker spot away from light polluted city skies. But hey, there is still a lot to see:

Image properties: 75x 40s, 800mm f/4, Sony A99ii @ ISO 1600

A small telescope meeting

After the completely washed away telescope meeting in the beginning of May, I tried to meet up with a few enthusiasts with quite promising weather prospects. Unfortunately the cloud cover did not vanish all the way. Even though there was quite a lot of clouds passing over, I could manage to snap some light frames from M51 – the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Image properties: 16x 180s, 714mm f/7, Alpha 6000 modified

It was fun chatting and also delicious being hosted with creole food 🙂 which compensates for almost any cloudy night!

Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha across the city

I had a bit of time to experiment with an H-alpha filter at home. Conditions are limiting astro-imaging as my balcony faces south. Living in the northern outskirts of a city, all the sky visible is significantly affected by city lights. This night, the sky was somewhat OK, reaching up to 18.7 to 19.5 mag/arcsec².

Using narrow band filters, like an H-alpha filter, the majority of the city lights may be cut away. This image (not perfectly focussed) shows, what is possible. It is a result of 12x240s, captured at ISO800 with my modified Sony A6000…

First glimpse of Comet 46/P Wirtanen

I was eagerly waiting for the first chance to see the promising comet 46/P Wirtanen. As I was scheduled for a public viewing session at the local observatory, I set up my camera on the 50cm telescope after the last visitor left. Before slewing to the comet (which was still extremely low above the horizon), I wanted to try a few night time jewels: M27 (Dumbbell Nebula), core of M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M57 (Ring Nebula).
Afterwards I slewed the telescope to comet 46/P Wirtanen. The comet had risen to 10°. Weather was quite OK, but that low, there is a lot of bright haze. Visually I had no chance to see anything. So I tried to take a few shots and see, if I could process the results…
Well… unfortunately there is something mis-configured as I endet up with really huge stars in the range of 12 arcseconds. So there is not that much detail within the pictures as I would have expected. The comet is there and looks promising. But from the observatory location, it has to rise significantly above the horizon…

Here are the results: