Blog - Cloud Hopping in Ahwahnee
October 26, 2013 - Ahwahnee Hills Observatory
Though the weather forecast definitely called for reduced transparency, Jarrod and I decided to do a star party anyways, along with my friend, Jon, visiting from Tacoma, Washington. It was a perfectly clear, beautiful day all day - until sunset, when approaching clouds began obscuring our view.
It became a game of cloud dancing, with imaging dependent on which part of the sky was not covered at the moment. My first target was M71, yet another one of the Messier objects I had not yet imaged. I had just enough time to capture 60 frames before it was time to move on...
...to the Eastern portion of the sky, which was clear and contained the beautiful Pleiades rising up. Though I have already considered this one completed, I had not yet imaged it close-up with my astrograph, and thus I decided to go for it. The imaging actually went very smoothly, until I started noticing significant halos around the stars brought out by thin clouds. I searched for another target...
...which took me to NGC 188, which was extremely close to Polaris, and in one of the few parts of the sky that was still clear. I was able to take 50 shots of it before it, too, was obscured. My diligence during the night paid off, however, because it resulted in the photography of three deep-sky objects, when it could have easily been none.
I also took two star trail shots during the night. The first was towards the north, which I framed to include Jarrod's house as well as many of the other residences in the frame. I'm actually really pleased with the way it turned out, clearly showing the residential lights but the stars as well.
The second star trail picture is wrapped in frustration, as Jarrod's ever-curious horses thought my camera looked pretty neat. I had to cancel my first shot, start a new one, and spend about 10 of the 60 minutes trying to keep the horse out of the field of view. Fortunately, it worked.
This is the part of the year where weather begins to become an issue. Hopefully we'll get some more stable weather patterns for the coming months, but I have a feeling it will, once again, be hit-or-miss for the winter.