Blog - Eastman Lake Star-B-Que
September 7, 2013 - Eastman Lake, CA
Every year, our local astronomy club (Central Valley Astronomers) runs their Star-B-Que, which is a potluck barbeque followed by our usual star party. It's always a time of fun, catching up with members that don't make it to as many events, and enjoying some good food. Of course, once the sun goes down, the mood changes to one of observation and photography.
My mission that night was to photograph several open clusters (including two pairs) and a couple of globular clusters on the Messier list.
First on my list was NGC7789, which is possibly one of the most gorgeous open cluster in the night sky. It isn't super bright, but is very large and dense, making it a beautiful object for telescopes, especially if you have something with a 12-inch diameter or larger.
I then switched to two open cluster pairs - 457/436 and 663/654. NGC 457 is known more popularly as the Owl Cluster, and is a stunning target for telescopes, with the 'eyes' clearly shining brighter than the other remaining stars in the field of view.
My next targets were two globular clusters that appear in the Messier catalogue - M2 in Aquarius and M30 in Capricornus. Both were easy picking and represent two more additions to my Messier list.
Once done with my star clusters, it was suggested to me by a friend that I try imaging the Pacman Nebula, also known as NGC 281. After a test shot revealed the presence of the nebula, I decided to go for it. While I'm not completely sure what the streak is, I believe it is a stray diffraction spike caused by a bright star off camera. I noticed it in every subframe I shot, so I decided to leave it alone.
Definitely a productive evening, though I certainly can't wait until the temperature begins dropping again - 100-degree heat is just no fun.