Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fine Summer Nights

I managed to sneak my ED80 on holiday with me to Cornwall for a week in August, and I was treated to a week of the clearest and darkest skies I've seen for a very, very long time.

We stayed in a converted barn out in the middle of nowhere on the top edge of a valley which gave an amazing uninterrupted 270 degree view south right down to the horizon. It was an astronomers dream.

Every night turned out to be a bit of a "star party" with the
(non astronomer) friends we were staying with. I had expected to be the only one outside after the initial "Oooh, a telescope - what can you see with that", but everyone was amazed at all the stars that we could see because of the dark skies.

On the first couple of nights we were treated to a bit of a meteor show with some very bright trails through Cygnus and down towards Sagittarius. We also watched the International Space Station fly overhead and I did a tour of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. Not that there was much to see with the latter two planets, but the thought of the distances involved seemed to more than make up for that. Moving on to M31 in Andromeda, globular cluster M13 in Hercules, and M22, M8 (Lagoon), and M20 (Triffid) in Sagittarius gave everyone a one-stop-shop to the types of objects up in the sky.

After the others all went off to bed I had a chance to do a mix of imaging and visual observing - the results of that will come later (oh, where does the time go!). Using my Canon 10D, armed with a hair dryer to fend of the dew, I took some wide (28mm and 50mm) shots of Cygnus, Sagittarius, and Scutum. Clearly visible to the naked eye was the Cygnus Rift, Scutum star cloud, as well as all sorts of other lumps and bumps of stars along the Milky Way which stretched right down to the horizon under Sagittarius.

Later in the week I got organised early and took some shots of Jupiter with my ToUCam on the ED80 early in the evening whilst it was still high up (though it was easily visible well up to midnight). Unfortunately I did not have my barlow lens to hand, so all I could snap was a prime focus shot, but I'm very pleased with the details I was able to capture considering its low elevation. Processed in Registax, PixInsight, and Photoshop you can see the result below. I don't think I'll get another shot of Jupiter this year so I'm just going to have to just savour this shot for now:)


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