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  1. Here is my first DSO travel report from the south Pacific: A week ago I arrived at Lizard Island (14°27 S, 145° 27´E) for research on their marine biological station until early January. It must be one of the darkest places on earth. Lizard Island is situated on the Great Barrier Reef about 20 km off the Australian coast and this far north in Queensland there are very few human inhabitants on the mainland and no light can be seen there from here. Closest town is Cairns 200 km to the south. I have been here virtually every December since 2002 but for the first time I now brought a travel kit for astrophotography. It consists of a SW StarAdventurer and a 300mm f/4 Canon telephoto lens with an ASI071 OSC camera. Having a cooled camera here is essential. I have once tried some AP here with a DSLR with extremely noisy results since the night time temperature here is rarely below 25°C. I also brought my PoleMaster camera for polar alignment. The whole kit with tripod weight 8 kg. The lens is only 1.2 kg. Focusing a telephoto lens precisely is tricky so I had to invent a microfocuser made from a folded sheet of aluminium cut out from a beer can. I shaped the sheet into a rod that presses onto the edge of the focusing ring by the force of a rubber band. Functioning a a lever it provides both a fine micro movement and fixes the ring so focus does not slip. Even if Lizard Island is close to paradise there are unfortunately also clouds, but so far I have had two relatively clear nights. First night was spent trying to find the very faint constellation of the Octans and its southern pole star. This was not easy for someone used to the northern hemisphere with the bright Polaris, and I had to print out a bunch of star charts just to get some orientation. When I finally found it clouds moved in of course. On Friday night it cleared from midnight until sunrise, and PoleStar helped me do what appears to have been a perfect polar alignment. I then aimed at the Large Magellanic Cloud and collected 145 x 90s of data, so about 3.6 hours, which is rather ok with this fast lens. The StarAdventurer behaved perfectly with no star trails in any of the unguided 90 s subs. So, here is the first result from this adventure, processed in PI and PS on a small laptop screen - I will probably have another go at it when I get back home to my 43" screen. The Tarantula Nebula (NGC2070) can be seen in the upper left corner of the galaxy. Wiki writes: The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent of 8. Considering its distance of about 160,000 ly, this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast visible shadows.In fact it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group with an estimated diameter around 200 to 570 pc and also because of its very large size, it is sometimes described as the largest although other H II regions such as NGC 604, which is in the Triangulum Galaxy could be larger.The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. Hopefully I get the chance to add more images to this thread soon - the weather report for tonight looks promising.
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