Headed south and managed to find a great secluded spot for astro in the Tetons.
Friday 21th Aug 2009
After much thought of whether to head onto Butte or back to Great Falls, Falls won, simply as I new the lay of the land there. I knew there was a walmart which was the first stop to buy a portable hairdryer. Second was onto starbux where I rendered and uploaded another movie. Shortly after midday I started the trek down to Butte. When I got there I was disappointed to find the Sears I was heading to had no auto. Picked up fuel and food and headed on down to Idaho falls. Got there about 6pm and was surprised that their sears was still going. Got an oil change and tyre rotation (up to ca 10k miles). Then onto the pass of the tetons where I hoped to find a nice observing site. I got VERY luck and found a fantastic place. There are two passes between Idaho Falls and Jackson. The first and smaller one was the one I stopped on and was surprised to find a good quality dirt road leading out back (thats great as it got me off the main road, which turned out to have traffic on it throughout the night). Set the scope up and collimated. Jupiter looked good and the seeing, while showing some turbulence was pretty good. By midnight the milkyway formed a glowing arch over the velvety black celestial sphere. I set the camera up firstly on andromeda, then moved to M33, the triffid nebula and M51. After that I was getting tired and so set up the timelapse on Jupiter (taking a frame a second). The tracking was still slipping periodically and I had to somewhat babysit the tracking. The terrain was not good for the night wanders and hunters in that it was open and very still, such that it was impossible to approach without making noise in the dry grass. However one incident got me out of my chair quickly. Initially I heard a sound like something big breathing, but wasnt certain, then a few seconds later something like a large snort a hundred or so meters away. I scanned the surrounding eagerly and purposefully, ready at a second notice to head for the security of the car, but my flashlights revealed nothing and I heard nothing else. Then about 4ish there was a multitude of howling across the valley, the night hunters were at work, and moving around too, I could hear the canine vocalization moving around the tree covered hills opposite. There are wolves in the tetons, and I was alone on a hilltop. Orion rose brilliantly just before dawn, and as the seeing on Jupiter was now terrible I gave it a go, and for only the second time in my life, I captured the horsehead nebula! Also took a brief look at Mars and Venus, but one was rather small, and the other rather bright. By then the sky was lighting up with vibrant pastel colors and I packed up and headed down to the pass carpark where I looked for a place that would get some shade from the firey sun that would soon rise, and I went to sleep just before dawn.
Saturday 22th Aug 2009
Back to Idaho falls and spent day processing piccies of timelapse. Had taken a piccie per second with the webcam, and using registax 20-40 frames gave a very good result. However was it labor intensive. I couldnt figure out any way to automate it (well I could have done, but if its a one off, writing the automation would take longer than just doing in the labor intensive way. The result blew away previous results, but by the time I was finishing up it was dusk in Idaho falls. By chance there was a walmart out back of the starbux so I just went for a wander (I was tired after a day of CPU work) and to my surprise found something that would do the AV record for the plane only 80 bux too! I bought it (last one) but after an hour or so of messing with it in the car worked out that it wouldnt sync up with the feed. Plus it died with loss of signal (same as the HD aiptek). Headed back to the pass but it was seeing (a good thing too as I was not really in any state to do anything). Slept on pass I had done the astro on the night before.
Duration : 0:5:39