First official night of observations!!!!!

It started out normal, it was my short day at work so I decided to go home and work on the doors on top of the observatory.  You know, the doors that the telescope looks out of.

I got the doors mostly figured out, I need to do some adjusting/trimming/weather sealing.  But there are now two doors that open up to the world and allow me to look out of the dome at will.

After that, and dinner, I decided to go out as the sun was going down and shoot some picture with just the camera and see what I could get.

I got a good shot of the moon at 22% phase…

I was pretty happy with that shot so I tried to shoot Saturn, that did not go so well…

After some more attempts I finally decided to bite the bullet and go and grab the telescope.

This is a bit of a process, especially considering that although the telescope breaks down into a mount and a tube, it still weighs a combined 90 pounds and I had to lug it up 20 feet of ladders to get it up there.

But the thing made it, and got aligned, as soon as I remembered that we actually are in daylight savings right now.

I tried to shoot Saturn, it was not really dark yet though and the focus is not perfect (not to mention mirror alignment)…

Still Saturn showed up as an oval and not just a dot, which is an improvement.

Then I tried to shoot things further away….

Andromeda has always been a goal, it is only 2.5 million light years away, and getting closer, but what the hell…

The focus and alignment are not perfect yet, but that is a hell of a lot more than I had seen before.

I decided to try something a little harder…

Barnard’s Star, for those of you who don’t know Barnard’s Star is a red dwarf and only 6 light years away from Earth, so it is comparatively right next door!  But it is dim, and was not discovered until 1888/90 and did not have its proper motion measured until 1916.

 There is a reddish dot, about half way up, and about 5/8th of the way to the right.  That is Barnard’s star.  It has about 15% the mass of the sun, and only has a visual luminosity of .0004 suns (Thanks Wikipedia)…

The cool thing is that it is estimated to be between 7 and 12 billion years old, which would make it the oldest thing I have ever seen!  Except your mom.

But where to look now????

First Stop was the Beehive cluster, which is theoretically in there somewhere, I was not impressed…

 So I tried the Wild Duck cluster, this is found a lot more impressive.  This is actually a ball of ~2900 stars, 6,200 light years away.

 The Eagle Nebula?  Missing something….  I am guessing that if I had the white balance right it would have shown up better, but I did not learn that until later… Anyway, it is 7,000 light years away!

 Omega Nebula, ok, that is a lot cooler.  Once again, about 5-6,000 light years away, the cool thing is that apparently this cluster is only about a million years old!

 Down in the lower right you get the Fox Head Cluster, i the lower right again (sensing a theme)…  Once again about 7,000 light years away.

 The Triangulum Galaxy, the picture smeared a little, but you can see the nebulousness in there.  This one is about 3 million light years away.

 Way off to the right is Bode’s Galaxy, it should also be noted that at this point I had finally bothered to look up the correct white balance for shooting stars.  That is what that Tungsten setting is for….  This one is about 12 million light years away.

The Cigar Galaxy, oh, thank you Tungsten lighting….  This is also about 12 million light years away.  This Galaxy and Bode’s Galaxy are actually only about 300,000 light years apart, close enough that they gravitationally interfere with one another.

Well, now I have a functional observatory!  And there will be a lot more coming out of there!  Yeah!

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