Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: Year in review

As I sit here to write this on New Year's Eve, it is cloudy and rainy again as it has been much of the fall and winter. There have been a few clear nights during the year that I chose to pursue other activities, but there weren't many prime observing opportunities in the second half of the year. Still I achieved a few astronomical accomplishments in 2018.

  1. First light for my upgraded ASI071MC-Pro camera was Jan. 3, 2018.  I found that the upgraded version is less susceptible to frosting.
  2. Received my new Explore Scientific 127 mm CF apochromatic refractor with FCD100 glass and a Losmandy G811 mount with Gemini II. This will be my travel imaging rig so I don't have to disassemble the observatory when traveling to a star party.
  3. Determined that a Tripp-Lite model U330-10M superspeed active extension cable works to connect the ASI071MC- Pro camera to the laptop. This long cable doesn't drop frames at a frame rates of > ½ second and the supplemental power supply is not required.
  4. In April I attended the Deep South Spring Scrimmage at Feleciana Retreat. First use of my ES 127 CF apo and G811 mount. Got in 2 nights of viewing before heading home due to the forecast for severe weather.
  5. Learned to improve my images through the use of flat frames taken with an Electroluminesient panel. This works very well to remove dust and other artifacts from the images.
  6. In August I attended the DSSG trial run at White Horse Christian Retreat.
  7. In October I went to Fort Davis, Texas with Dave & Scott.  We had a great time observing from really dark skies and visiting the McDonald Observatory.  Photos in my Flickr account.
  8. Got the Rigel nStep focuser motor working on the observatory scope.  The USB cable for it requires an auxiliary power supply for consistent operation.  I purchased an nStep focus motor and for the travel scope.
  9. I recorded 104 astronomical observations during 26 observing sessions in 2018.
  10. Completed the underground cable piping in the observatory and ran the USB & Ethernet cables from the mount to the office.  All works fine and no more trip hazard!

And now for a sampling of my images from 2018;

H2 742-2, NGC 4248 and friends
Luling Skies Observatory
March 14, 2018
stack of 18 x 90 seconds

H 197-1, NGC 4485 & NGC 4490, Arp 269
Luling Skies Observatory
April 16, 2018
stack of 11 x 180 seconds, cropped

Messier 101
Luling Skies Observatory
April 26, 2018
stack of 20 x 180 seconds, cropped, lightened

Messier 57, The Ring Nebula
Luling Skies Observatory
June 8, 2018
stack of 25 x 180 seconds

Iris Nebula NGC 7023 and Caldwell 4
Casa Mano Prieto, Fort Davis, Tx
Oct. 13, 2018
stack of 20 x 180 seconds, cropped, processed in GIMP

NGC 5985, NGC 5981, NGC 5982
 Casa Mano Prieto, Fort Davis, Tx
Oct. 13, 2018
stack of 15 x 240 seconds, cropped

NGC 7635, The Bubble Nebula
Luling Skies Observatory
Nov. 15, 2018
stack of 20 x 240 seconds