Clear summer nights with low humidity are a hard thing to come by. With the forecast looking good, I jumped at the chance to “stretch the legs” of the SkyGuider Pro and do some observing of the Messier List.
Less than a month into using the SkyGuider Pro, I couldn’t be more pleased with it’s performance and quick set up. Yet again, I trained it on M81 and M82. This time bumping the exposure up to 2 minutes and taking the ISO down to 800. Results from over 1 hour of exposure time will be posted in the Astrophotography page.
With the SkyGuider Pro and DSLR tracking and imaging, it approached midnight and several Messier objects began to rise in the Southern sky. As the DSLR shutter open and closed, I brought out my dobsonian telescope and quickly found M4, which was a fairly bright globular cluster that revealed some fine detail. Next up were my two favorites of the evening, M6, the Butterly Cluster and M7, Ptolemy’s Cluster. Of the two, I was most impressed by the simplicity and elegance of the Butterfly Cluster. From there it was a race to see how many faint Globular Cluster’s could be viewed before the DSLR was done shooting light and dark frames. After moving the telescope to see above the tree line, M69 and M70 were my final targets of the night. Both of the these were very faint and if not for clear and steady skies with low humidity, wouldn’t normally be visible from my house that low on the horizon.
Failed attempts at the Trifid Nebula, Sagittarius Star Cloud, the Eagle Nebula and M55 show that I will have to travel to the Blue Ridge Parkway for these this Summer. Some enjoyable views of Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot, Saturn and the Ring Nebula made for nice breaks between the hunt for faint Messier objects. With observing done, I moved back over to the SkyGuider Pro and took the Bias and Flat frames for post processing before packing up and heading inside for some rest around 2:30 am. I don’t know how many night’s like this I’ll get this summer and am glad I put the clear skies to good use.
As for the Messier List…5 Down…7 to go!