Dell City Astrophotography April 2019

Last weekend we took a break and visited Dell City, Texas, where we stayed in a lovely B&B, enjoyed gorgeous sunsets and sunrises over the Guadalupe and Cornudas Mountains, and enjoyed seeing the stars and planets.

As the song goes (sing it with me, y’all):

The stars at night

Are big and bright

Deep in the heart of Texas!

It is true!

And I had great fun trying to get some good pictures of the beautiful sky full of stars.  But just like folks buying new telescopes need to be reminded that they won’t get the views that they see in the published pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, I had to learn that the view from a telephoto lens isn’t the same as the view from an 8-inch telescope.  So the Messier objects, which are nice objects to find in my 8 inch telescope, are mostly fuzz balls with my telephoto lens, even with a sky-tracking camera mount and the ability to take a long picture.

The other thing I had to deal with was an embarrassment of riches – there were so many stars that it was hard to make out the constellations.

I started the evening of April 27 trying to find the two brightest available comets, but they were really too dim to be seen.  I did get familiar with the constellation Leo, and saw a beautiful meteor pass through it – it’s even in my picture, though it’s very faint and you have to zoom in.

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Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 24 mm, manual focus
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

I turned from there to finding Messier objects, and found M13 in Hercules, M4 in Scorpio, and M80 in Scorpio.  Fuzzballs all.

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Here’s a closeup of M4 with the blinking lights of an airplane.  (M4 is the fuzzy one.)

M4AndAirplane

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

Finally, I waited until Jupiter rose to get a picture of it with its line of moons.

JupiterAndMoons20190428

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 30 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 150 mm, manual focus
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

The next evening it was cloudy, so we got up early the following morning for a last view of the stars.  It was totally worth it – we got a lovely view of Sagittarius between Jupiter and Saturn and the Milky Way just before dawn.

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Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5, 30 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 13 mm, manual focus
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

I also was able to zoom in on Jupiter and a couple more Messier objects.

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Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

I’ll finish with Venus at sunrise on April 27.

VenusGuadalupeMtns20190427

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/7.1, 1/8 second exposure, ISO 100
  • Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 24 mm, autofocus

I can’t wait to go back and try this again!

 

Moon and Venus

MoonAndVenus20180615

Last night, as we exited the movie theater, we saw a beautiful conjunction of the Moon and Venus, with a bright Venus floating above a crescent moon.  The cell phone pictures did not do it justice, nor did my hastily set up picture shot from the car window.

MoonAndVenus20180616

So I prepared to take pictures tonight.  The Moon had moved!  Still a beautiful conjunction, yes?

Moon20180616

And since I had the tripod set up, I captured a picture of the Moon as well.  It would be fun to explore its cratered surface.

Camera geek info:

Moon and Venus 6/15/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, autofocus on moon

Moon and Venus 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 1/5 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 112 mm, manual focus on moon
  •             Tripod

Moon 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/60 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus on moon, IS off
  •             Tripod