After a series of cloudy and often rainy days washing out observing and night photography there was a brief break forecast for the third week of May. The previous weekend’s AAA Deep Sky Observing group’s North-South Lake trip was rained out and people were eager to see stars.
Samir Patel actually started the thread on the Astrophotography Google Groups email, trying to gather interest in a mid-week trip to the UACNJ facility in Jenny Jump State Park. Thursday, May 24, was the consensus date and seven AAA members and Chris Callie from UACNJ gathered at the New Jersey site.
An ISS flyover happened around 9:30pm, somewhat low but long in duration. The sky was clear to the eyes, but a waxing gibbous moon high up washed out many stars. Though we couldn’t complain about the mild temperatures.
Jeff Williams set up his Sigma 150-600mm lens with a 2x teleconverter on an iOptron CEM25P mount and a Canon 6D Mark II camera with a nice external monitor for deep sky imaging. He was aiming at M81/M82 (Bode’s and Cigar Galaxies) and M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.
Next to him, Evan Brorby and his father Michael set up their William Optics Z61 with field flattener, 60mm guide scope with mono guide camera on the Celestron Advanced VX mount (AVX). Their camera is a Canon t7i astro-modified. They were shooting the Lagoon and Trifid nebulas and later NGC 7000, the North American Nebula.
Maggie Machinsky (Nikon camera) and Stan Honda (Nikon and Sony) did wide field DSLR photos as did Samir. Antoine Ribaut arrived later in the night to set up his Nikon 200mm f2 lens and QHY 367c camera on his new M-Zero mount and shot remarkable images of the North American Nebula in the hydrogen alpha wavelength. Several people stayed into the early morning hours. Jeff reported a nice naked eye Milky Way was visible after the moon set.
In between shots, Chris showed us amazing views of Jupiter and Saturn through the UACNJ 178mm Astrophysics refractor.