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SGL 2022 Challenge 6 - Holiday Astro

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For many SGL members it is holiday season.  Hopefully those of you in the southern hemisphere can manage a couple of days away over the next 3 months.  This challenge has some rather unusual stipulations.  You must be spending some time away from home on holiday.  This means at least one night.  The holiday must not be primarily for astro activity, so no pics from Namibian desert or any other location specifically set up for astro photography.  The mount must be limited to something you can easily pack into a suitcase, so lightweight trackers are permissible.

Widefield, deep sky, solar system all ok but we are particularly interested in images which convey a holiday "vibe" whilst still having an astronomical component.


Start date 1st June 2022

End date 31st August 2022

As previously the winner and runners up will receive an SGL challenge mug showing their image along with a virtual medal-of-honour for their SGL signature.

Please post entries directly into this thread

To keep the thread manageable for the judges please do not post comments about entries, emoji reactions are welcome of course.



All data must be captured and processed by you (no collaborative entries). 
Data must be captured during the challenge start & end dates. 
Multiple entries are allowed but please make a fresh post within the thread.
Multiple submissions of the same image, processed differently, will not be accepted.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is a bit of fun.  We had a nice few days last week at a hotel on the North Devon coast, Mrs Tomato pushed for a hotel break so I wouldn't try and  lug an imaging rig with me like I usually do when we go to a coastal location. So instead I went super minimal, my ancient Pentax K100D DSLR, (CCD sensor, no less), 50 mm lens, dodgy webcam tripod and a intervalometer. 



I perched it on a wall of the terrace in front of the hotel, and took some 10 sec snaps even though the moon was up, a stiff breeze was blowing and plenty of wispy high cloud was evident. Part way through an enthusiastic and slightly inebriated fellow guest came along and asked me what I was doing and promptly picked up the camera! I guess he wouldn't have done that if I had the full rig set up, but he was only showing an interest. My AA batteries gave up after 30 attempts at holding the shutter open, so I packed up and went to bed.

This is the best of the bunch, 7 x 10 secs of the Cygnus region. I plate solved the image using Astrometry.net but I don't believe any of the 'nebulosity' is genuine, it's more likely an artefact of processing the high cloud.😉




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I just posted this in the "Imaging - Widefield" thread and @Clarkeytold me I should enter it into the holiday competition so here it is :)

For the long bank holiday Jubilee weekend my family and I went on a short trip to the beautiful Welsh countryside, 10 minutes drive from Devil's Bridge, Pontarfynach.

We've been there before last year but I wasn't lucky to have a clear night to enjoy the beautiful bortle 2 skies.

This year the weather was on my side and the first night I had the opportunity to do something that I've been dreaming of for a long time, to shoot the Scorpius and RHO Ophiuchi region under no light pollution.

I didn't have to go far to do it, this field is next to the cottage we were staying at and luckily, this year the sheep have been moved to a different field so I didn't have to worry about them knocking over my tripod

The foreground is simple but I like it and I don't think it needs more than it already has.

And now the geeky stuff.

To take this photo I used my astromodified Canon 6d with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 art lens on a iOptron Skyguider Pro and Benro CF tripod.

For the sky I shot 49x60sec ISO1600 exposures at f2.8

And for the forground I only took one 30sec ISO3200 shot at f2.8 when it wasn't very dark outside.

I hope you like it as much as I do because I'm abolutely in love with it.



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  • 2 weeks later...

A second photo from my trip to Wales.

Unfortunately this is a composite as the weather didn't allow me to do it the way I wanted.


"The Swan River" - Hafod Estate


Last year when we visited this place I thought that it would be amazing to shoot the night sky with such a beautiful foreground but unfortunately I didn't get the chance to go there at night.

This year, we went back and the night when we arrived in Wales was a very clear night. Beeing tired from the long day at work and the 5 hour drive to Wales, I set up my equipment close to the cottage we were staying at and I shot the night sky until the clouds started to roll in.

The forecast looked promising for the following day and I really hoped to achieve my goals but unfortunately the Welsh weather is so unpredictable, the forecast was wrong and there was no point of going there at night if the sky is fully covered by clouds reason why this photo is a composite.



Canon 6Da, Sigma 50mm f1.4 art lens, Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 lens and iOptron skyguider pro

Sky: Sigma 50mm 17x30sec tracked images ISO1600 @ f2.8

Foreground: Tamron 15-30mm 1 x 1/60sec ISO100 @ 30mm f11


I hope you like it!




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From a recent trip to Dorset, perhaps a bit foolhardy to do some imaging on the night after the Summer Solstice (22nd June). That said, it was a good week which included a few clear nights and was very warm mid week. Visited Lulworth Cove, a popular photography spot.

I had all sorts of issues with the lightweight tripod, mounted the scope on the wrong side of the GTI mount and the clutch appeared to be slipping slightly. But, that said, I am reasonably happy with the image considering the amount of time spent. Having a view to the East, I pointed the scope at Sadr in Cygnus. I hoped to pick out a little nebulae but I got NGC6910, an open cluster nearby. I was accompanied by the holiday park resident cat, Tess. Being slightly mindful of the noise of the DSLR and other residents, I kept the session quite short.

Location: Higher Brockhampton (not far from Tom Hardy's cottage, 3 miles east of Dorchester)
Scope: Skywatcher Evo 72ED
Mount: Skywatcher AZ-GTI
Camera: Canon 600D
Exposures: 100 x 1s (10 darks, 10 bias)

Stacked in Siril, processed via Photoshop.
Plate solved using astronomy.net.




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I thought I would post an entry to my first SGL challenge. This image was taken on Thursday 7th July while on holiday in Cornwall.

The foreground was captured at 11:45pm in a single 30 sec exposure, f2.8 iso 1600, the 60% setting moon lit the rocks beautifully. The sky was captured shortly after and comprises of  x49 60 second subs at f2.8 iso 1600.

Captured using my Fuji XT-2 and the Fuji x mount 16-55mm f2.8 lens at 16mm. The sky was tracked using my SW Star Adventurer.



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Here's my entry. Full Moon rising over Thessaloniki on 13th July this week.

Had a short break to this lovely city (well worth a visit) to celebrate my son's completion of his A-Levels. Viewing from our apartment balcony, I'd noticed on previous nights that the full moon was likely to rise behind the distant hill (Λάναρης λόφος, which Google tells me translates to Lanari Hill), and so it did.

Canon 700d, Canon 70-300mm zoom @ 300mm


A late flight last night meant that we didn't arrive home till 4.30 this morning, but during the flight and on the drive home were treated to the most magnificent display of Noctilicent Clouds I've ever seen. If my companions weren't so tired and grumpy, I'd have stopped to try and capture them!

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A blackhole and a fireball over Ladybower Dam.

Had a nice holiday in Derbyshire with Mrs H and some of my children and grandchildren. In a fit of optimism I had packed my mobile imaging rig in the 'family truckster' and immediately condemned a formerly sweltering 'High Peak' to a week of cloud and overnight rain. Anyhow, the nearby water reservoirs were very very low so I may have delayed the threatened hosepipe ban for the east midlands by a week!  As I am old and naturally gifted in the art of falling over, I am banned by my grandchildren from going out into 'rugged environments' after dark, so my entry is a composite of a fireball meteor  luckily captured between clouds from our holiday let in ' Papa nocturnal safe-mode' and a day time image of  one of the two 'ginormous sumps' that form part of the Lady Bower Dam  infrastructure. The image of the night sky and bright meteor, (possibly a Capricornid) was captured using a single 1 minute exposure at ISO 800  with my unmodded Canon 600d DSLR and a Sigma EX lens at f=10mm all on a Star Adventurer EQ mount. The same camera and lens set up was used at the dam. The two images were developed blended and cropped using Affinity Photo and Topaz Denoise AI.

It's all a bit surreal, but then again so am I!

George now back in a very sunny Lowestoft

Blackhole and a fireball crop 06.png

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I have just come back from a lovely trip around France, and although I didn't take much equipment (basically just a couple of cameras and lenses, and a tripod -didn't have room for my Star Adventurer, sadly), I took some astro photos. I didn't stay anywhere with particularly dark skies, but sometimes I just like the challenge of light pollution if I can get a shot with an interesting landmark. So here is Albi's cathedral, probably one of the most beautiful in France:


I took it the past week, with a Canon 700D, and the flat 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens. Just a tripod and 8-second shots, about 30 min of integration time over two consecutive nights. Stacked in Sequator to freeze the ground (took me a few rounds until I got the settings right), and blended with a shorter foreground exposure in Photoshop. It was a nightmare to process, but you can see M6 and M7 quite clearly, as well as the Milky Way. I tried not to push the curve too much to make the transition to the light-polluted bottom of the image less blunt and thus avoid artifacts. There's still a purple fringe around the 78-metre high tower, but the Toulouse-Lautrec light-and-sound show in the gardens of the Berbie palace went on until midnight. You may think that the bright cross to the left is related to the Cathedral, but in fact it's meant to be the Moulin Rouge! 😅 Do note that the radial shadows it is causing on the top of the nave belong to enormous gargoyles. The red tree is also lit for the show, whereas the green ones are in the foreground, close to my hotel, and therefore out of focus. To give you an idea of what I had to deal with, this is a single shot when they occasionally went wild with the lights:


Just crazy, but at least I could see the show for free! All things considered, I'm pretty happy with the final result. I have more pictures, which I will try to process in the coming days. Just for reference, this was the view from my window during the day:


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I said above that I didn't go to any region of dark skies during the holidays, but I was nonetheless surprised by the excellent views of the Milky Way while staying in Camargue, somewhere near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. I was in a hotel in the middle of the marshes, with bulls and horses as the only neighbours, and there was very little light pollution towards the sea in the South. Therefore, I couldn't resist taking my first proper images of Rho Ophiuchi, which I had never suceeded in imaging from Kent.

I was lucky to have a balcony from which I could comfortably work without even stepping outside the building, and a colony of bats kept the mosquitos at bay (on the downside, I got bat droppings on my head, but I was lucky that they didn't touch the camera). 😅 Only my modded Canon 700D, a 50 mm lens and a tripod. 8-second exposures, and since I didn't have my Star Adventurer, I had to track manually. This ment moving the camara every minute or so, to keep the objects in the frame. Very annoying, but at some point I discovered that it was easier to slide the whole tripod for azimuth correction, and just touch the camera to change altitude. I did this for about 20 minutes, and repeated the process four times for slighlty different framings of the nebulae. Not perfect, but I managed to build a panorama with the four stacked pictures (stacking in Siril, stitching and stretching in PS). Considering the difficulties, I'm quite happy with my first panorama of this colourful part of the sky! Click to enlarge.



Again, to put this in context, this is where I took the picture from, in daylight (a 16 mm shot). You can see the marshes in the distance, behind the hotel grounds. Scorpius was right above the marshes seen beyond the fence, and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was about 10 km to the Southeast, so a bit to the left of the photo.


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More holiday pictures! I took more than usual this time because I had clear skies almost every day. Anyway, here is a Milky Way panorama from Provence:


You can see all from the Double cluster and the Andromeda galaxy on the left, to the Sagittarius star cloud and the Lagoon nebula to the right. It is a composite of 12 photos, each one a stack of 7 to 10 shots taken with a 16 mm f/2.0 Samyang lens. Just a tripod and my Canon 77D (not modded). Finding the place was quite an adventure in itself, and one of the loveliest moments in the holidays. Let me add some background: I was staying in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and after a 20-minute drive into the mountains, one arrives at the village of Le Beaucet:


From there, a narrow road takes you deeper into the mountain, to a place called Sanctuaire de Saint Gens. Behind the church, a path in the woods takes you to the Fountain of Saint Gens, which apparently the saint created by pointing to the rock with his index finger (it could be a most useful skill these days):


A beautiful, eerie place, which I could enjoy alone. But it was getting dark, and I had to climb to the oratory of Saint Gents, where he used to be a hermit. A cross (the one in the panorama above) marks the spot, but it was a very steep climb, and it was very hot, more than 30 Celsius. A ridge path finally led to the cross, and the views were amazing:


The lights belong to the town of Carpentras, I believe. Sadly, I discovered that the light pollution coming from the N and NW washed away the stars, and although I could see the Milky Way easily, it wasn't much better than my usual spot near Canterbury. Bortle 4, I'd say. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the sunset and took some pictures, including the panorama. It was a night in magnificent solitude, and the photo of the cross under the Milky Way is the perfect souvenir of the moment.

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And yet more holiday photos! This one was taken from the same spot as above, the oratory of Saint Gens, just before starting the panorama. I tried to capture Scorpio before it set behind the mountains, but again I didn't take into account the significant light pollution. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was just 9 km to the SW as the crow flies, so the glare was strong behind the mountains. Nonetheless, some aggressive processing yields this:


The sky is a stack of 35 x 15s lights, again with the Canon 77D, Samyang 16 mm f/2.0. Tripod, no tracking. The foreground is a 120s exposure, merged in PS.

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A brief visit to Bridgehamton (where the beautiful people go, excluding me), on the east end of Long Island.

iPhone 13. Handheld, before the mist rolled in…




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My final photo of the holidays. A 16 mm shot of Albi, which I think turned out better than the previous 50 mm shot. Light pollution was still horrible, so the processing (in PS) is quite aggressive, but I'm quite happy that I could show the Milky Way looming massively over the whole Episcopal City of Albi, one of the World Heritage sites in France. Echoes of the Albigensian crusade under the indifferent stars:


Canon 77D (unmodded), 109 x 15s shots. Just a tripod, no tracking. Foreground 2s exposure, ISO 800 (the monuments were heavily illuminated until 1 am at least, just bonkers!). Blended in PS.


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Very simple Mobile phone capture of the Moon rising over Portland Bill Harbour. Looked beautiful rising through the "belt of Venus". Wish i had brought my ED80 or 300m lens for a close view.

Captured with a Samsung S9 mobile phone


Edited by Pete Presland
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The view from my hotel window in Weymouth for the last 10 days. I wish the light had not been there 🙂  great view nonetheless. 

Venus just visible in the golden Sunrise over the Dorset hills @ 4.35am.

Simple single capture with Canon 750d and 18-135 lens


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I was lucky enough to go to Mauritius for a couple of weeks this month for a family holiday and took advantage of a clear night! I dashed away from  my family after dinner and set up on the Bortle 4 beach at my hotel in Pointe Aux Piments for a couple of hours, gunning for one of my most lusted after targets, the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.


I know the challenge refers to star trackers, but I chose to bring my tiny Rainbow Astro RST-135 mount which only weighs 3.3kg, so I'm not sure if that is allowed for this! Imaged on August 16th with an Askar FMA180 and ZWO ASI2600 MC Pro. 84 x 60 second exposures at 0 gain. Here is an image of the setup in situ for full disclosure!


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Well despite the generally hot and clear weather over much of the Summer, our arrival in Cornwall for two weeks seemed to bring out the permacloud, so I only managed a 90 minute window on our last night!  However it was still well worth getting out to see the Milky Way in all its glory from dark skies, and there was even some airglow showing up on camera.  Here it is above Cape Cornwall, from Kenidjack Castle.  


Details about the image are here.

Hope everyone managed to get a break in over the Summer. 😊

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