Friday Night Viewing
Kirby Storter Roadside Park in Collier County Florida
March 19, 2010
Fred Lehman

This was the first clear evening in what seems like forever, and it even occurred on the day of a scheduled outing -- amazing. I arrived on the scene just as the sun was dipping behind the distant treetops, and I was surprised to find the parking lot completely packed with cars. I parked off to the side and walked down to talk with the two park rangers who seemed to be in charge of the rather large crowd of patrons. I learned that the rangers were about to lead the group on an hour-long sunset to darkness sojourn through the Everglades. I told them I would be setting up my telescope and when they returned I would treat them to a complementary tour of the night sky. I had just completed my polar alignment when they suddenly reappeared on the scene. All of them enjoyed looking at the assorted clusters and nebula, but I'm afraid that for many of them my bright green laser pointer was the most interesting part of my presentation.

Eventually the crowd dissipated and I was able to get down to the business of capturing a few more luscious pictures of the night sky. Most of the bright emission nebulae of the Winter Milky Way are already too low in the west to be suitable targets, and the multitude of goodies in the Summer Milky Way won't be up for a couple more months, so I spent the night shooting clusters and a few galaxies. Here are the six pictures I managed to click off before my batteries all went dead.

SXVF-M25C on an LX200-14 @ f/1.95
Open Cluster M46
in Puppis

Open Cluster NGC2477
in Puppis

Spiral Galaxy M106
in Canes Venatici

Edge-on Galaxy NGC4565
in Coma Bernices

Globular Cluster M3
in Canes Venatici

Globular Cluster NGC5139
Omega Centauri

Due to its very low altitude above the southern horizon, the photo of Omega Centauri required special special processing to correct for the prismatic effects of the Earth's atmosphere. To do this I first split the raw stacked FITS file into separate R, G, and B images. The RED image was re-sampled with a vertical offset of +1/3 pixel (shifting it up) and the BLUE image was re-sampled with a vertical offset of -1/4 pixel (shifting it down). The GREEN frame was left unchanged and the three colors were then re-combined into a single RGB image again. Since I shot the picture at the meridian crossing there was no need to apply an X-axis color convergence.

Marc Umlas

Fred and I went out to Kirby Storter Roadside Park on Friday, March 21, 2010. I arrived about 8:30 and Fred was already there and taking a number of visitors to the park on a tour of the night sky on his computer. They were suitably impressed.

The weather was beautiful, temps started about 65 and dropped to 50 degrees or so. There was almost no wind. Sky was clear and the air was stable.

I mounted my AT106 triplet on my Fredified CG5at mount and imaged M101, Monkey Head, Leo Trio and Omega Centauri. Iím currently processing the images.

We left at 5am.

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