4/30/2005: Cloudy and quite cool when I arrived around 5:30ish, the skies cleared around sunset just as predicted. A small but high quality group with Aaron, Jeff, Don, the Nortons, and one more party. I was planning to do some prime focus. After shooting Orion over the pond with Jeff, I decided to tackle the 4 remaining Messier objects I had yet to locate as they were all conveniently located in a clear part of the sky, and it was time. Ground/Pond fog started causing trouble, and around midnight it really got out of control.
Messier Completion (Note: no goto here, everything found manually...): I'm happy to say I found them all (M61, M49, M91, and M88). I used my 35mm Panoptic EP, which provides a 2.22 degree field in my Takahashi TOA 130. I also used The Sky on my laptop in conjunction with Pennington's Messier Marathon field Guide. Since I'm not very familiar with this part of the sky, I spent some time getting oriented naked eye. I wanted to find Epsilon Virginis, aka Vindemaitrix ("Vind" from now on), and I starting trying to find Alpha Com and nearby M53 to get oriented. Naturally, I started at the wrong place, I had gone to Vind. first.
Once that was sorted out, I started with M61, which is out in the middle of nowhere, though in fairness there is a mag 5 star in the neighborhood. Pennington's book pointed out that it's almost exactly halfway between Vind. & Beta (Zavijava) which was helpful. Once I found that, I set The Sky's orientation to exactly match my EP view, and from there it was a simple matter to star hop and galaxy hop to M49. After that, I went back to Vind. & star/galaxy hopped up to M91 and M88, which both fit into the same field of view... A nice way to end 5 years of Messier hunting!
This was one of those heavy dew evenings. My dewbuster controller (automatically senses scope temp & air temp to adjust power) sent full power to the objective dew strap all night. I am happy to report that the equipment all stayed dry with the help of 8 assorted dew heaters & two deep cycle batteries.
Exposure details of Orion photos:
Top: Nikon D100, Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D lens @ 24mm, 20 sec @ f3.5, ISO 1250, Cloudy-3 white balance. In camera noise reduction, along with two separate passes of Neat Image noise reduction filter and some relatively minor curves and a slight crop in Photoshop.
Bottom: Nikon D100, Sigma 14mm f/3.5 lens, 8 sec @ f3.5, ISO 1250, full frame resized to 700 pixels with one pass of Neat Image noise reduction. Focus wasn't perfect, but resizing & sharpening hides that ;-)
Sunrise and Sunset Pictures
Copyright © 2005 by Dick Locke. All Rights Reserved.
Contact and Image Usage Information