NHAC (old) Neal Site: Orion Setting over the Pond
(and completion of my Messier hunting!)
All images on this web page Copyright 2005, Dick Locke.
 All Rights Reserved.  Contact and Image Use Information 

Orion Sets Over the Neal Site Pond
Shortly after sunset... Check out the stars reflected in the pond, thanks Jeff for pointing those out!  Jeff has a very cool star trails picture you should check out!  Exposure details towards bottom of page.

Orion Sets, 14 mm (super wide!)
Exposure details towards bottom of page.

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 ;-)

Oct. 2003 Starry Nights Fixed Tripod Astronomy Pictures (Orion)

Sunrise and Sunset Pictures

Planetary Landscapes


NHAC Pix - Dick's Main NHAC picture page

NHAC Pix - 2nd newest

NHAC - moon and mercury pictures

Paul Downing's Home Page (more images!)

NHAC - Link to club's page

Dick's Pix (Dick Locke's Picture & Image Page)

Astronomy Pictures: Dick Locke's Astrophoto Gateway page....

Copyright 2005 by Dick Locke.  All Rights Reserved.
Contact and Image Usage Information

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