Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, USA
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Early February Observing

Bringing Space Exploration & the Night Sky Down to Earth

Early February Observing

As it turns out, 2018 was not a very good year for observing. The weather did not cooperate on most of my planned observing sessions where they were sessions with my club, the Raleigh Astronomy Club or attendance at star parties (see my post 2018 ECVAR).

However, 2019 is starting out better. On the night of Feb 2, I was able to head out to the club’s observing location on Lake Jordan with about a dozen other club members. The evening started just before 6:30pm with clear skies and temps around 50°F. However temps dropped steadily and where in the 30’s by the 9 o’clock hour, 34°F by midnight and 32°F by the time we started to pack up at 2:00am. The seeing was moderately stable and the sky transparency was average. The skies stayed clear through our observing session. However after packing up all my gear, I noticed clouds rolling in from the East on my drive home around 2:30am.

It was a successful observing night for me, capturing 13 objects towards my Herschel 400 observing program as well as 3 other favorite objects. I also experimented more with a software program called SharpCap for capturing EAA views through a process called Live Stacking. Upon inspecting the images the following day, I believe I have been too aggressive in setting the black level within the histogram stretching of the views. My hope was to tease out background stars and nebulosity but instead the pictures come out more noisy. I also realized, once I saw the images on a large monitor at home and not my smaller laptop screen in the field that my later captures were slightly out of focus thanks to the temperature change over the course of the night; I’ll need to reminder to check focus throughout the night. In any case, here are few captures from the evening.

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Clear & Steady Skies!

-Mike