Okie-Tex Star Party 2007 – Day 4

Four straight nights of good to great weather! It?s interesting how sky conditions vary at night. To the untrained eye it may not seem like anything is different. But to us astronomers we note the change in transparency, objects do not have as high a contrast, the sky does not seem as dark. The seeing, or how steady the air is, can vary tremendously as well. These conditions are not mutually dependant or exclusive, truly great nights are clear, transparent and steady.

During analysis of the images from Wednesday night I found that many of the later exposures were affected by thin high level clouds. I decided to reshoot IC417 and NGC6914. Up until now I had not had any user mistakes or glitches while imaging, which is unusual for me. Tonight I had a few dumb ones, like the camera control cables hanging up on the mount midway through an exposure. That?s just being sloppy and it?s possible I just haven?t got enough sleep.

During the night I climbed partway up the side of the mesa to our north west. There I placed a camera that continuously took exposures for awhile. This was a test of an idea I have been kicking around for the past two years, to try and capture both the stars and activity on the field. After two hours I retrieved the camera. I found that coming down a hill at night is far harder than going up. It was also interesting to find that the temperature thirty or forty feet higher than the observing field is significantly warmer.

Okie-Tex 2007 Day 1

Sunday, October 6th, my day one at Okie-Tex Star Party (OTSP), holy cow I think over half the registered attendees arrived on Saturday, one day ahead of me. However, as forecast, Saturday night was cloudy with high winds ? exactly why I did not come down. Been there, done that.

Sunday night started out poor being on the edge of the passing storm system. Yet after midnight it started to clear and we had a very transparent sky the rest of darkness. While the seeing was poor the joy of being under truly dark skies made up for that little problem.

Early in the morning the views were fantastic. Bill was putting on a show with his 22 inch Starmaster. We had a superb view of G1, a globular cluster in the Andromeda galaxy. I also had the best view of the horsehead nebula I have ever seen (H-beta filtered). That?s the beauty of astrophotography, once I was on target and tracking I was free to wander around check out everyone else?s stuff.