April 21-22, 2020
Weather: Clear – Mild, breezy, humidity 25-50%. 77-62°F (25-16°C).
Observing Time: 21:00 to 4:00 (UTC-7)
Bortle Scale: 1.5
Successful – Antares, M104, M4 (w/ left over meteor trail), ω Centauri, M81&82, two comets, one lyrid, plus a couple bonus wide shots.
Failed – M109 & 97, C76, and at least a few dozen images w/ NO meteors!
This was the night of the peak for the Lyrid meteor shower, so couple that with a new moon, it also being International Dark Sky week and you have an excuse to go stargaze!
Used the dirt road to get a bit away from the highway – lesson learned from the last time. One side was more solid than the other. Purposely set up on the solid part of the road, and kept the other “lane” open just in case some crazy soul just happens to be driving along that road between Midland and Rice.
Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) clearly was looking dimmer compared to 4/11/2020 prior. Sky Safari needs to update their apparent magnitude for it, as the magnitude 8 C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) was also in Camelopardis, and as you can see, looked brighter. Need to set a reminder for May 21-22, as that comet will be really close to M81 and M82 and be a potential target!
Autoguider kept flip flopping between working and warning that it was unable to make any significant DEC corrections. M81 and M82 managed to get a successful 10 minute sub, but then I couldn’t even get a couple minutes for nearby M108 and M97. Got decent shots for M4 and M104 but C76 wouldn’t guide…
I have a feeling that it may just be the mount and perhaps the extra few lbs over max load capacity is too much… especially when it comes to backlash correction… everything else from the polar alignment and balance is fine. better start saving up for that Atlas II.
On a bonus side, it was nice being able to take a quick snap of C80, also known as Omega Centauri… from Southern California (latitude 35° N and below), it never gets more than 8-10 degrees high in the sky, thus even in dark locations it’s too low for the naked eye due to the airglow!
I managed to capture a small Lyrid in my shot of the Milky Way, and a leftover trail from a smaller Lyrid next to M4. Other than that, nothing…
Ever so often they’d remind me, “oh yeah, there’s a shower tonight,” but they never streaked where my camera was pointing… I felt it would be too frustrating if I just kept “chasing” where I saw one streak by.
I’d say I saw a few dozen the entire night, and up until 2 am I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the sky while busy with the telescope.
The consolation prize is a great portrait shot of the Summer Milky Way. I’m sure I’ll get a few when the Geminid shower peaks in December.
2 thoughts on “April 21-22 Gallery”
Some fabulous images, I wish I had your dark sky!
Sky Safari has been my app of choice for many years but its comet magnitude predictions leave a a lot to be desired. It also often publishes conflicting values, for deep sky object magnitudes and distances, on the same page.
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Aren’t you closer to dark skies than I am? Rice is about 2h 30-45 minutes away from my home… No matter how dark you want to go in Southern California, there’s always going to be a distant glow from any one of those places.
I wish I didn’t have to drive so far to get to a Bortle 2 but it is what it is – for crazies like me the views are worth it every time!
Sky Safari just didn’t seem to account for the fragmentation, it looked like it was still basing its predictions on the initial brightening rates. But hey, it was still a target.