Saturday, September 4, 2010

The First is Last

This is the last of the images from our 2010 trip to New Mexico.  I just realized that this picture of the southern Milky Way ...

[south from this latitude anyway - would be amazing to see this at the zenith! note to self, must travel with gear south of the equator]

... was the very first of the trip way back on August 3rd.  I remember being so excited to finally have a break in the monsoon storms.  I waited about 9 days for that.  It was still cloudy that night and I shot 16 60sec exposures before the clouds came charging through.  It was first light for the 100mm EF-L lens - I hadn't even taken a terrestrial shot with it yet.  Still had that, ahhhh, new lens smell.

Old Friends.  click to flickr
Only 16min of data but it probably would have taken me an hour to pull out this signal from the skyglow back home.

There is the Trifid and Lagoon floating in the shoals of their inky pool.  The globular cluster M28 off to the left looking almost star-like in this wide field.  Thousands of stars masquerading as one.  The open cluster M23 sparkling jewel like, just peeking into the frame in the upper right.  The comfort of old friends revisited. 

Taking a picture of this area is like photographing Half Dome in Yosemite - standing next to hundreds of tourists all pointing their cameras at the amazing vista. One of the most photographed areas of the sky.  Iconic. You have seen hundred of pictures.  You have seen it dozens of times with your own eyes.  Yet you are drawn to take yet another picture as a keepsake of this particular meeting.  You almost have to.

In the end 3 partial nights dodging clouds and moving from object to object.  I had one perfect night when I snagged an hour each of M33 and M32 before the moon rose.  Six images.  Hours and hours of processing images late into the night after returning home.  Simply perfect.

But now I'm out of data.  Must. Get. More.   Hmmm,   It's been about a month.  Dark moon cycle.  Hey Marek ... wanna go to Montebello tonight and shoot some stars?  I'm in!

Southern Milky Way
Taken at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico August 3rd, 2010
Canon T2i (stock), 100mm EF-L @ f3.2
Astrotrac Travel System mount
Imaging temperature range: 60-62F
16 60sec exposures @ ISO3200
50 darks, 20 flats (1/5" ISO 100) 20 flatdarks
pre-processed and stacked in Nebulosity
post-processed in PS4

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