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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.

 

1934730482_LizardIsland.thumb.jpg.5e9be05d2e2eb191d9624b7e53f0ef92.jpg

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.

 

1412576890_20191218_LIRSmedVenussmall.thumb.jpg.82a4747bf210f0d55f8d7012600b2754.jpg

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.

 

1502708631_MicrofocuserforCanon300a.thumb.jpg.d9a5869a4b3d499907adb278ff7ded05.jpg957948110_MicrofocuserforCanon300b.thumb.jpg.406290fa7112cc532f7febdb14f1ed2f.jpg

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.

 

703256201_20191220LMCPS17smallSign.thumb.jpg.0a3263c3155877eaaa835a53430b5d4d.jpg

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.

Edited by gorann
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Absolutely beautiful.

I would love to see a single image of shorter duration to be able to compare with what I look up and see.

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Great report, Göran. And I'm not jealous at all. 😉 For as Orup put it "Jag har bara regn hos mig". 

Have fun down under.

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Wow, you lucky thing.

Also lucky you are far away from those horrible Australia bush fires.

Carole 

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I like every word in the post title !!!

Deep Sky - Imaging - South Pacific Island

Not at all jealous !!!!! 😉 

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As it is christmas time I can only wish for such a journey and even more to take a picture like that. Lovely shot Göran :)

(I knows who are coming tomorrow and it is not santa so I must dream on)

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Thank you all for your comments! Yes I am quite a lucky thing right now and last night was actually almost cloudless so I got both 3.5 hours on the Small Magellanic Cloud before midnight (when if fell below som shrubs) and then the Running Chicken Nebula (IC 2944) later in the night. I am still working on the SMC data but here is a preliminary version of the Running Chicken.

The Canon telephoto lens is not the greatest for star shapes so it is not for pixel peepers, and I will probably have a go at fixing the stars a bit better in processing. However, it has some advatages such as a large illuminated image circle so there is no vignetting on my APS-C chip and the fist lens is so far away from the chip (>10 cm) that dust bunnies do not show - so I have no need for flats. And it is a 3" f/4 refractor that weighs just above one kg. The sky here is so dark that there is no sign of gradients whatsoever and there is absolutely no need for noise reduction.

20191223 IC2944 PS14smallSign.jpg

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16 hours ago, apophisOAS said:

apparently all those islands will be gone when the ice cubes on the north/south pole melt🥶🌞

Roger

I keep telling my kids our property will be beach front when that comes. We are 50 miles away right now, but only 40 feet vertically. 

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Another great capture Goran.. What’s on your list.. if these aren’t can you add them please  Eta Carina .. Omega Centauri .. Crux and the Coal Sack..  shame no wife field lens..  please remember next year 😊.. 

Dave

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There are some fabulous southern hemisphere targets, but many probably too small for a camera lens.  I'd love to do the Tarantula Nebula, but more up close than the one you've done, and the Statue of liberty Nebula (no idea where it is, just seen images of it). Vela looks good, but think it's a narrowband target.  

Carole 

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Awesome, Star Adventurer is a very apt name indeed when put to use under a sky like this.

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4 hours ago, maw lod qan said:

I keep telling my kids our property will be beach front when that comes. We are 50 miles away right now, but only 40 feet vertically. 

It has been raining so much lately, that my property IS slowly turning into beach front. A few days ago, I spotted swans in this lake-to-be. When it starts freezing, this will be a great place for kids to go ice skating. 

IMG_20191223_150104.thumb.jpg.66877f686c913a604c8f5fd15405cc6a.jpg

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5 hours ago, Laurin Dave said:

Another great capture Goran.. What’s on your list.. if these aren’t can you add them please  Eta Carina .. Omega Centauri .. Crux and the Coal Sack..  shame no wife field lens..  please remember next year 😊.. 

Dave

Thanks Dave! I have Eta Carina and Coalsack on the list. It was supposed to be cloudy tonight but I could see stars so I had a go and tried with Eta Carina but the horizon was too cloudy so right now I am shooting straight up near Orion just to get something. I have no go-to or computer control with the StarAdventurer so I have to just try to aim it and I was looking for the Witchhead (which is very low back home), but found something else instead. Will have to do a plate solve tomorrow to see what I am imaging. Great fun anyhow, but not much sleep.

I just realized that my wife has brought her Canon 18 m- 200 mm zoom. Do not know if it is any good for AP but it may be worth a try .

By the way, this island is made up of granite with a 350 m high mountain in the middle, so it is not one of those that will disappear :-)

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I'd give it a go Goran.  35mm will get Crux through Eta Carina for a spectacular wide field..   

Dave

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Here is the image I managed to capture near Orion last night. Only 37 x 1.5 min, so barely an hour before clouds made life too difficult. They also made polar alignment a tiresome procedure since they kept obscuring the celestial south pole. I was starring at the PoleMaster screen for an hour seeing the Octans come and go. So there was a bit of star trailing in the image.

I could not get platesolving in Astrometry.net to work this morning and it was not until an hour into processing that I suddenly realized what I was looking at - amazing that I by accident aimed there early on Christmas Eve🎅 Do you recognize it?

The weather report is relatively promising for tonight so hopefully I can get the Eta Carina Nebula.

 

20191224 Neb near Orion PS14smallSign.jpg

Edited by gorann
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And I have now also processed the data of the Small Magellanic Cloud from Sunday.138 x 1.5 min, so totally 3.5 hours.

Maybe not as spectacular as it larger neighbour.

20191222 SMC PS11smallSign.jpg

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I also fount time to improve the processing och the Running Chicken - found more faint stuff and unfortunately it looks like a dark dust lane is about to cut off the head of the chicken😱

20191223 IC2944 PS18smallSign.jpg

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That's a very productive stay at the research station. I hope your field work is just as productive. 

God Jul till dig och Sjannie

Edited by wimvb

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Just now, wimvb said:

That's a very productive stay at the research station. I hope your field work is just as productive. 

We got all the animals (jumping snails) we need for the experiments and much of the time they run the experiments themselves, consuming oxygen in our respirometers - so I find enough time for AP and processing😎

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Here is the Eta Carina Nebula from two nights ago. 115 x 1.5 min so close to three hours. No noise reduction needed. I also caught the Witchhead Nebula earlier the same night and will start processing that now.

I tried to catch a second panel below the Eta Carina Nebula after the X-mas party here last night, but the computer was apparently more intoxicated than me because this morning it said "ASICAP unexepected quit" and I only had two subs. Will give it another try next clear night.

Merry X-mas everyone!

Göran

20191225 EtaCarina PS13smallSign.jpg

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Amazing Goran..  and great tracking!

and a very Merry Xmas !

Dave

Edited by Laurin Dave
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Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

Your stay is turning out very productive. It seems to me that December sees a doubling of your year's output. 

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