Tag: Travel

M41 Open Cluster

In order to complete the Messier Catalogue and capture all of its deep space objects, I have to pack the telescope, mount, camera, cables and batteries and set it up somewhere in the nature with better view. Most of the objects I am able to capture from home, but some of them have very low declination (not far above the horizon) and I cannot see them from my terrace, because there is a hill direction south.

Messier 41, open cluster in constellation Canis Major is one of them.  So, I packed my car and went to collect some photons. At least I got the opportunity to test my new mount Avalon M-Zero, which replaced my previous portable mount iOptron CEM25P. The old portable mount was working well, but due to conventional equatorial design, one needs a counterweight, which was in this case 5 kg. This means 1/3 of the total weight. M-Zero is basically single fork mount, which utilizes the weight of the motors and housing as a counterweight. Moreover, M-Zero uses belts and pulleys, which means zero backlash. I can confirm – it works very well. I can save few kgs in my case during my next travel expedition.

The night was cold and since I don’t do the astrophotography in the nature frequently, I faced some issues. First, the portable telescope lost the collimation and I didn’t have the laser collimator with me. Second, I started to photograph before the telescope reached the thermal equilibrium, therefore there was a focus drift. This is definitely not my best picture, but I can at least check another Messier object from the list.

Technical details

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure39x60s, Gain 136, bin 1x1,

Chasing darkness in Schwarzwald

My second expedition after the dark skies (this year) led us to Germany, specifically to Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in the state of Baden-Württemberg. We rented a small cabin for a weekend and I took the same equipment which I took to Milos, i.e. telescope newton 150/600 mm, mount iOptron CEM25P and ZWO 071 Pro camera.

As soon got dark, the Milky Way showed up. I measured SQM and it reached 21.1, which is not spectacular, but far better compared what I have at home.

The equipment was working perfectly, but the dew started to form on the secondary mirror, because the cabin is close to river Breg, which means a lot of humidity. I never had dew problems with Newtonian telescope up to now. Lessons learned – I need a dew shield. I managed to capture only M74 Galaxy and M78 Nebula.

Anyway, I also managed to capture wide angle photos with my Pen-F and Fish eye lens.

Here are the star trails – exposure 30x30s:

And here is the Milky Way – exposure 1x30s ISO 3200 f1.8:

Chasing darkness in Greece – Milos

My second expedition after dark skies led us to beautiful island Milos. It’s mid-size island in Aegean see and it belongs to group of islands called Cyclades. The port and whole night life (bars, restaurants, discotheques) are located on the northern part of the island. We stayed on the other part of the island, where are empty, not organized beaches and mainly very low light pollution. To travel there is not straight forward, because Milos has very small airport. Therefore we had to fly to Santorini Island and from there take a ferry to Milos.