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Finally some observing weather

See Jane’s observing report from the same evening — some great binocular observing with Kemble’s Cascade.


The 20D mounted piggyback on the Traveler and Mach One GTO mount, hoping to catch comet PANSTARRS on its first opportunity.

Several months ago, David Green of the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association invited me to give a talk on astrophotography in March.

I thought, “No problem! We’ll have several dark sky weekends between now and then for me to get some photos and screen captures, and I’ll have a fine talk.”

Famous last words! I must have jinxed the weather. But my luck turned just in time to get out with Jane on March 9 for some dark sky observing and astrophotography at Amboy Crater.

This trip would be the last remote observing session for our not-so-trusty Dodge Grand Caravan. It had been plagued with electrical troubles for the past several months, and on this trip it started behaving erratically on the climb up the Cajon pass on I-15. We opted to brave the possibility of being stranded, and carried on to Amboy Crater. Luckily everyone survived the trip!


Getting everything staged to load into the van.



Our first hope was for a shot of comet PANSTARRS in its first opportunity on the northern portion of its pass through the system.

Those clouds you see in the set-up pictures hung around the western horizon just enough to keep the comet out of view.


Astrophotography on the left, visual astronomy on the right. Those clouds kept PANSTARRS hidden, but cleared nicely later in the evening.

My first target was going to be an easy favorite visual target, but one of which I didn’t have a good astrophoto. M64, M65, and NGC3628 are three galaxies in Leo that form a striking group. There are other galaxy groups in Leo, but I believe this one is the set known as the Leo Trio.

Three galaxies in Leo

The Leo Trio, M65, M66, and NGC3628. 45 minute exposure (3×15 min.) SBIG ST-4000XCM, Astro-Physics Traveler, 105mm f/6

I went for a couple of other interesting easy targets that should be fun. The Whirlpool and NGC5907 “Splinter” are best with longer focal length telescopes, for a narrower field, but I enjoy these wide field shots too.

The Whirlpool galaxy

M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy in Ursa Major, Astro-Physic Traveler 105mm f/6, SBIG ST-4000XCM camera

The “Splinter” in Draco is a lovely edge-on spiral.


“The Splinter” galaxy NGC5907, edge-on spiral in Draco. Astro-Physics Traveler 105mm f/6, SBIG ST-4000XCM

Finally I went for a redo of a classic winter-sky object, one for which my Traveler with its wide field-of-view should be ideal, the Rosette nebula in the winter Milky Way.

Here is my earlier shot of the Rosette, and the full size image of it here. On that night my focus wasn’t especially good. Since then my skill with focusing and processing has improved quite a bit, such that now I’m proud to show you my new Rosette image.


The Rosette nebula region in Monoceros, 45 minutes exposure (3×15 minutes) Astro-Physics Traveler 105mm f/6, SBIG ST-4000XCM

So I certainly had enough to make a fair astrophotography presentation for a camera club. My talk was the following Tuesday evening at Santa Clarita Camera, for the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association.

Camera Club

I had about 30 camera club members for my presentation on deep-sky astrophotography.

Mojo with astrophotography gear

I brought my A-P Traveler, mount, tripod, and camera for show-and-tell along with the talk. Not the usual gear found at a typical camera store.

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