Dark sky observing session

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Dark sky observing session

Postby Gfamily2 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:10 pm

We took the advantage of a clear night, no moon and a non work day following to travel about 80 minutes into North Wales to do some observing last night.

We'd been recommended the car park above the Alwen Reservoir dam as a good observing spot, but it's off the main road and the last slope down to it was a bit too covered with snow and ice to risk getting caught at the bottom.
However, there was an area we could pull off and had a fantastic view to the South.
I had my 8"SCT with us and had my best ever view of the Orion Nebula - it's the first time I've seen the braiding effect visually.
A few things didn't go well - I found that my Star Adventurer had switched itself on so had drained batteries, and the SCT mount alignment wasn't perfect so for fainter targets I had to goto a nearby star and re-sync before I could hit them, but I did manage to see the Crab Nebula better than I've ever managed before (albeit still only as a milky patch).
As well as observing, I took about 60x 2" images of Orion on a fixed tripod with a 50mm lens for stacking.

The scope frosted over after a while, so we called it day after a couple of hours.

Mrs G spent time with binoculars, and enjoyed using Stellarium to track down Uranus.

Apparently, there was a significant fireball observed in Taurus/Aries area just before 11pm, but we were heading home and driving in the other direction at that time.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Dark sky observing session

Postby Aratus » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:44 pm

A great report! Some of the darkest skies I've seen in the UK were in Wales. It's a bit too far for me for a day visit now though.
I use an 11" reflector (Celestron CPC 1100) and a 3" refractor, (Sky-Watcher ST80) mounted on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI 120MM, ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 1300D for imaging.
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Re: Dark sky observing session

Postby Graeme1858 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:15 pm

Sounds like a great adventure was had by all! Makes a nice change from the back garden once in a while.
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Re: Dark sky observing session

Postby The Man with the Corrugated Iron Roof » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:38 pm

Shame about the Star Adventurer packing up. I haven't done any true dark-sky observing for a while.

Sounds like you had a good night anyway.
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Re: Dark sky observing session

Postby Gfamily2 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:20 pm

I might have been able to set up with a USB 5v power supply to set up the SA, but with the cold I didn't want to try out things for the first time.

Particularly as we were walking on snow throughout, and it was at least -4 degrees up there.
I got a nice image of Orion though,
FB Alwen Orion.jpg
FB Alwen Orion.jpg (210.03 KiB) Viewed 638 times
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Posts: 523
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Re: Dark sky observing session

Postby Aratus » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:42 pm

Nice photo of Orion. I notice the little streaks going across the image. Given the time frame you mentioned previously, almost certainly they are trails of geostationary satellites. The Clarke Belt goes through Orion. The trailing is due to the movement of the telescope keeping up with the stars, rather than any movement of the satellites, which by definition don't move in the sky.
I use an 11" reflector (Celestron CPC 1100) and a 3" refractor, (Sky-Watcher ST80) mounted on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI 120MM, ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 1300D for imaging.
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Location: East Lincolnshire


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