The night sky has actually been completely free of clouds for several days. Unfortunately, it has not been free of smoke. Only a few of the brightest stars can be seen and the Moon looks decidedly yellow. And the same weather pattern that is allowing this smoke to stick around is also keeping us very warm here. Daytime temperatures have been well over 100 degrees F, and at night it doesn’t get cold enough for my camera to operate properly, so it’s a double whammy.
I’m getting ready for the Oregon Star Party – and the eclipse! My inventory has been pretty low, so I have a lot of Backlit Prints, Space Windows, and Astro-Flash drives to make and package. In fact, there will be a lot more of the 8×10 backlit prints than I have ever had before. To make room to show them, I’m creating walls (temporarily) in front of all the windows in the rear of the gallery. There will be a few less paper prints, but still quite a lot of them, and I’m having a big sale on framed paper prints.
There is also something new for the Astro-Flash product (a USB flash drive containing 50 of my best images): In the past I’ve always offered Astro-Flash on a reasonably large flash drive so that you could then use it for your own photos and data. But I’ve come to realize that people aren’t really very interested in that, so I now have a “basic” version with just enough storage space for my content. This makes only a small difference in the price (when compared to the most common size of flash drive), but makes it less complicated.
In past years I’ve had calendars available for the coming year at OSP, but since I (and probably everyone) want to have pictures of the eclipse in the calendar, I will just be showing a “mock up” with some of the other images that will be in next years calendar, and taking orders for it. Whether I get any good eclipse photos or not, there will be some great solar images in this calendar from my friend, Bob Yoesle, who is a master of solar observing and photography.
And, as promised, I have a couple more images from recent star parties to share, although neither is among my best work. First is an RGB image of the Bubble Nebula and M52 (the open cluster in the lower left):
The Bubble itself is probably more appealing (and detailed) in narrowband images, but RGB imaging shows the variation in color (real color) in the stars.
And for another Sharpless object, here is Sh2-170, a very dim hydrogen region in Cassiopeia:
When I say that this region is dim I mean that the hydrogen is dim. The O3 and S2 channels are EXTREMELY dim. This image is made up of 4 hours of exposure for each channel, and still required very careful (and tricky) processing to show the influence of O3 and S2 in the form of the blue region and variations in the red.
If the smoke dissipates and the temperature drops a bit … the clouds will probably come back also! But even if I do get to do some more imaging before OSP, it will probably be quite a while before I get around to processing anything, including any images from OSP. But I will post a reminder about OSP and the eclipse before I leave.