Tag: Crete

Chasing the darkness in Greece on Crete

This year we made our traditional summer vacation in Greece a bit earlier. The main reason was the cheap plane tickets to Crete. The destination was given, what remained was to specify the precise location. My friends recommended the southeast coast, so I started to search and found a house with a suitable terrace in the abandoned village Chametoulo. According to the light pollution map, the location should be perfect. We arrived at night, parked in front of the village, and moved all our stuff to the house through very narrow, steep streets. The first thing, which struck my eyes, was the presence of several LED powerful street lamps. WHY? Why there are street lamps in the empty village? Who pays for the electricity? Anyway, the terrace was partially covered and protected from the street lamps. On the other hand, it was very dark anywhere you look. I measured the SQM and directly at the zenith reached 21.55, which is a very good value. I started to get excited, but during our stay, my excitement was turned into frustration. It was very windy all the time. Some days it was less windy, but still, the conditions were far from being optimal. Fortunately, I took two rigs with me. The classical 150/600 mm Newtonian, sitting on RST 135 mount. The second one I tried in the winter – the pocket astrophotography rig. Askar F4.5 180 mm refractor, coupled with Canon 6D astro-modified and all this on extremely portable iOptron SkyGuider Pro. The Newtonian was totally unusable in the wind, but tiny Askar had no problems at all and I took roughly 1300 photos with Canon 6D camera.

Here is village Chametoulo during the day:

And here is village Chametoulo during the night:

Here is the double rig. I attached a 20 l canister to the tripod holding the RST 135 and 150/600 Newtonian to minimize the vibration due to the wind, but unfortunately, it didn’t help.

In the end, I managed to capture a couple of galaxies: M101 Pinwheel, M31 Andromeda, but otherwise, I gave up with 150/600 mm Newtonian. The smaller rig based on iOptron SkyGuider Pro performed much better. My primary target was Rho Ophiuchi @180 mm focal length. Then I captured the most interesting nebulae in constellations Serpens and Sagittarius – Lagoon, Trifid, Eagle, and Omega nebulae. Then I moved to the constellation Cygnus and capture it with many different focal lengths. And finally, I made a stop at the constellation Cassiopeia to compose the Heart, Soul nebulae with the Double Cluster NGC 869 and 884.

The Milky Way was not possible to photograph directly from the house, due to the street lamps in the village. I had to take a car and drive a bit to get to the South Coast Viewpoint:

Technical details:

LensSamyang 24 mm f1.4 @ f2.8
CameraCanon EOS 6Da
MountiOptron Skyguider Pro
Exposure16x15s, ISO 1600
Date2021-07-14


IC1805 Heart Nebula and IC1848 Soul Nebula

One of the last deep space objects I captured on Crete are two visually large nebulae. And these are IC1805 Heart Nebula and IC 1848 Soul Nebula. Both are very dim objects, therefore I set the shutter speed of the Canon EOS 6Da camera to 3 minutes and let it capture the light shooting from the constellation Perseus the whole night long. Even NGC 884 869 Double Cluster fit in the field of view.

Technical details:

LensAskar FMA180 F4.5
CameraCanon EOS 6Da
MountiOptron Skyguider Pro
Exposure50x180s, ISO 1600
Date2021-07-12

Cygnus

I went to Crete without a detailed plan on which deep space objects to capture. The primary target was Rho Ophiuchi, which I captured really well. Then I started to think about the next objects. Obviously, if you are in a dark place, you can point your camera nearly anywhere. However, there are some regions full of stars and deep space objects. For example constellation Cygnus, which is sometimes called the Northern Cross. It is located visually on the plane of the Milky Way galactic disk, therefore there are many deep space objects.

Let’s have a look at a wide-field picture captured by a 24 mm lens attached to Canon EOS 6Da:

Let’s zoom a bit by changing the lens to a 50 mm focal length. Here the constellation is perfectly centered:

Let’s zoom further to the central star Sadr by change of the lens to 180 mm focal length:

Let’s keep the focal length 180 mm and let’s have a look at the left star Deneb and very famous North America nebula:

Again, let’s keep the focal length 180 mm and change to perspective to the bottom (eastern) star Aljanah, where the beautiful supernova remnant the Veil nebula is located:

In total, the camera collected 15.5 hours of light and I am happy with the result.


IC1396 Elephant’s Trunk nebula

Elephant’s Trunk nebula is an emission nebula located in constellation Cepheus. I tried to capture this magnificent nebula in 2017 and in 2018, but it never fit in the field of view of my camera-telescope assembly. This time I used a focal length of only 180 mm, combined with a large full-frame sensor. Well, and finally it fits. Moreover, even the B174 dark nebula at the bottom left corner found the spot on the sensor. The picture was taken under a very dark Cretan sky.

Technical details:


M8 Lagoon nebula M20 Trifid nebula

Constellation Sagittarius is full of deep space objects. I think we all agree that the most beautiful one is the Lagoon nebula, accompanied by the Trifid nebula. I captured these nebulae already, but with a much longer focal length. This time I used a significantly shorter telescope – only 180 mm to reveal the other deep space objects. The bright star at the bottom left is the star Kaus Bolearis, where the archer has his head. This star is surrounded by the globular clusters: M22 Great Sagittarius cluster on the left and M28 on the top.

Technical details:

LensAskar FMA180 F4.5
CameraCanon EOS 6Da
MountiOptron Skyguider Pro
Exposure50x60s, ISO 1600
Date2021-07-03