Here are some of my images from Calstar 2006

The primary scope and camera used for these shots was an ultralight home-made 16" newtonian on an AP900 mount. The primary camera was a Starlight Express SXVF-M25C. The scope also uses a Baader field flattener (which still needs some adjustment). The primary camera was guided by the Starlight Express guide head in an off-axis guider. The secondary camera used was an unmodified Canon EOS Rebel XT, guided by an ST4.

Full-resolution images can be seen by clicking on any of the smaller images below

Night 1

The conditions for night 1 were pretty much the same as nights 2 and 3. Not great transparency. The only exception to this was the seeing which I would have judged to be a bit poorer than the other two nights. My primary goal was to get up and runnning and check out the new 16" Newtonian imaging scope I had recently finished. I noted several problems during the night. Poor tracking and an odd streaking of stars at the upper right of the frames. Still I managed to get some images done.

The bubble Nebula. Shot with 16" on first night of party.
The Helix nebula, a remarkably large and beautiful planetary nebula. Shot on first night with 16"
NGC 891, a spectacular edge-on galaxy. Shot on first night with 16"
Crab Nebula, shot on first night with 16"


Night 2

For night two, I set up two scopes. The 16" on my AP900, and an ED80 on a G11. At first I was still plagued with tracking problems. A suggestion from Jeff Crilly at about midnight lead me to check my PEM settings though, and alas, they were set to "none". The scope had lost its periodic error correction information. I assume this happened when I was upgrading the hand controller software a number of months previously. I proceeded to reprogram it using Pempro, and tracking immediately improved. It actually says a lot about the accuracy of the AP900 that the previous nights results were possible with no PEC enabled.

I didn't spend much effort with the ED80, basically just doing a visual polar alignment and letting it go. In retrospect it would have been worth a bit more effort.

NGC 7331. Shot with 16"
NGC7814 and surrounding area, shot with 16
IC405 shot with 16"
Cocoon Nebula, shot with 16"
M33 shot with ED80
M31 Shot with ED80


Night 3

Night three started off with issues. I was keen to get a full night in with the newly tracking mount but noticed finally what the problem with the streaking of stars in the upper right was. The Starlight Express M25C has an adjustable ccd plane. You can adjust the squareness of the CCD to the optical train using a set of screws. I had not done this, assuming they would be set to default square position. I was mistaken. The screws were very off-axis, and actually loose from the factory. I spent several hours trying to sort this out, but eventually just screwed them all in, making the ccd flat.

This process was made worse by a breeze that was blowing for the first couple of hours.

Eventually, I also set up the G11 with a my Canon holding a Nikkor 104 f2.5 lens and shot the North America nebula area.

Pacman Nebula, Shot 3rd Night with 16"
M74, Shot with 16"
North America region of Cygnus, shot with Nikkor 105mm lens