Blog - Eastman Lake October 2013
October 5, 2013 - Eastman Lake, CA
Our club's October 5 star party to Eastman Lake almost didn't happen. You see, the lake, like many in our area, is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers - thus, the government shutdown impacted the operations of this lake as well. Fortunately, the person in charge notified our club that a surplus of funds would allow the lake to be open for two additional days, and our star party was able to run as scheduled.
I began my evening with a beautiful globular cluster, Messier 15, as we were also entertaining several visitors that were experiencing their first star party. The skies were extremely clear and the temperature was very mild with low humidity - perfect for astronomy.
My next object was a beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy, NGC 891. After processing this image, I was amazed at the sheer number of background galaxies that showed up - I had previously thought (erroneously, apparently) that only the Virgo/Coma Berenices region had such galactic density. Also, it was during the exposures of this image that, for the first time ever, I was able to spot M33 with the naked eye. A very clear night, indeed.
I then continued my Messier quest with M77, a very unusual-looking spiral galaxy. Though the galaxy is small in my field of view, the relatively wide field allowed me to capture yet another galaxy, NGC 1055.
After rotating my camera 90 degrees and taking another set of flat frames, my final object for the night was Open Cluster M35, a beautiful cluster in the constellation Gemini. During the final two object exposure sets, I also captured a star trail image that showed just how low the lake is, with the landscape beautifully illuminated by the various light domes from nearby cities. All in all, a very successful evening, and a wonderful way to spend my birthday.
Now all we need is for the government to stop this shutdown, so that our next star party (November 2) can run.