Photo Mini-Trip: Andy's Place in Bonny Doon

Oct 22, 2005

This was supposed to be a rendezvous with Shahram and Chris Kitting, but it ended up being a solo trip. Cirrus clouds made a long trip for Shahram and for Chris over the hill too risky. Instead of Locatelli's, this time the site was my friend Andy's lot at the summit of Bonny Doon. Mary, Andy, and the new owners of the Englemann's place all enjoyed an evening under the stars. Mary fixed up something "very simple": foccacia bread, prawns in drawn butter, and home baked manhole cover-sized chocolate chip cookies. I chipped in a bottle of cabernet savignion. Mary - thank you! It was sufficient to power me through the night. My photo goals were to rig the ST2000XCM with the Megrez APO and GM8 and get some deep sky images, and also diagnose problems with the autoguiding calibration.

The Eagle Nebula. 17 x 1min stacked (not sure if all were accepted) in Registax3. Tracking was poor. Small adjustments to brightness and contrast, and unsharp mask in Photoshop 7. The .tif image looked much better before "save for web" in Photoshop. Not sure why.

The Helix Nebula. 20x1min stacked in Registax3 and curved in Photoshop 7. Tracking was good, after I figured out the calibration command. No wavelet adjustments made. To fill the frame here, the original image was strongly cropped. You can click to see a larger image... but I wish you wouldn't. It's just 20 minutes, and this nebula has a notoriously low surface brightness; it requires several hours to do it justice.

I finally solved the self-guiding calibration issue; increasing the x,y time, and calibrating before each exposure. To verify, I took two single 5-minute exposures of the Plieades.

The Plieades: 5min self-guided. Through cirrus clouds

Same, but better centered, and through more cirrus