Friday Night Viewing
Kirby Storter Roadside Park in Collier County Florida
September 3, 2010
Fred Lehman

Once again and for the first time in almost five months, the clouds relented on the day of a scheduled outing. I arrived shortly after sundown and set up under perfectly clear skies. There was not as much as a breath of wind to blow away the early evening mosquitoes, but they weren't a problem at all later on when it was nice and dark. Since it has been quite a while since my last imaging session, I was a little rusty and didn't get everything put together properly till well after 10PM. I had just enough time before moonrise to capture a couple of fine images of two familiar Milky Way objects. Although I have shot each of them several times over the years, I wanted to try them one more time with my new high-resolution camera.

Both images turned out spectacular, and I am quite pleased with the results. I put an hour and twenty minutes on the Trifid Nebula (M20) and an hour and forty minutes on the Dumbbell Nebula (M27). After taking a fresh set of dark frames I packed up and headed for home, arriving about 4:30 AM. I spent the next hour and a half processing the pictures and I finally got to sleep just as the morning twilight was beginning to wash away the darkness of the night.

I was accompanied by Marc Umlas and Don Ellington from SFDSO and a few of the more adventurous members from the astronomy club of Fox Observatory, the most hearty of whom stayed out till after 1 AM.

SXVF-M8C on an LX200-14 @ f/1.98
Trifid Nebula M20
in Sagittarius

Dumbbell Nebula M27
in Vulpecula

Due to its low altitude above the southern horizon, the photo of the Trifid Nebula 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 diagonal offset of +0.4 pixels (shifting it up and to the left) and the BLUE image was re-sampled with a diagonal offset of -0.8 pixels (shifting it down and to the right). The GREEN frame was left unchanged and the three colors were then re-combined into a single RGB image again.

Marc Umlas

Fred, Don, and I headed out to Kirby Storter and arrived about 8pm. I noted after setup that I had left my battery charging behind my house about 70 miles away. Fred was gracious to lend me one of his batteries which saved my evening. I put 100 minutes on the Bubble nebula which got me within an hour of moonrise. Everything started to dew up about 0115 and we left Kirby at about 0300.

SBIG 4000XCM on an LX200-10 @ f/5
Bubble Nebula NGC7635
in Cassiopeia

Western Veil Nebula NGC6960
in Cygnus

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