Upload & Sell: On
| p.14 #10 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount |
That reminds me. I wrote a little piece a while back that might be appropriate here. Although there are no photos, it's specifically about that very topic. Hope it's OK to post this here
by Eric Chesak
Ever look up? As an astrophotographer, most folks would certainly think so. Recently, I have found myself looking more at a computer monitor than the sky. With more and more automated & robotic scopes, I believe that I am not alone.
Working for a small Government contractor, I regularly travel to very remote sites. Here we offer our wares by day, but have little to do at night. There is nothing for miles. No TV, no internet; not much of anything!
2008 was my first year on this project. After darkness fell, I looked-up and was astonished. The view caught me a bit off-guard. I found myself hunting for the familiar constellations, but the background starfield was so bright, this task was more difficult that I imagined. During the duration of this project (~2 weeks) we experienced perfect weather. With no distractions, my spare time clicked-off under the stars.
So taken by this, I spent the next year assembling a portable imaging system, that would allow me to capture some of the incredible views that I experienced. As the project approached, I was excited at the prospect of having extended lengths of time to image the wide-field swath. In hindsight, it became evident that I must have violated one of Murphy’s laws of astronomy. During the duration of the 2009 project, we experienced weather of apocalyptic proportions; No stars, no sky, just gale-force winds and 100% coverage of salt spray from the Sea below.
2010 rolls around, with the memory of the 2009 event. I was forbidden to bring anything remotely associated with astronomy. Disappointed, I planned to just stargaze… What I experienced during the 2010 project was nothing short of magnificent. I spent countless hours just staring at the galactic depth. I naked-eye star-hopped to M31, which was clearly visible. I was also amazed to easily see M15. As an added bonus, dozens of Taurid and other meteors displayed their brilliance. After I tired of sitting, I climbed into my tent, into bed and spent many more hours with my head hanging out the door. In the morning, I typically arose several hours prior to the rest of the team. As a reward, I witnessed a week’s worth of Zodical Light. Never having previously seen this phenomenon, I was astonished at the intensity & clarity.
At times, I wished I had some gear to photograph these sights. But knowing I didn’t, allowed me to just enjoy the sheer splendor. I’ve previously been to dark skies, but never with such extended, uninterrupted viewing time. I witnessed 10 year’s-worth of normal dark sky observing. But most important of all, I was looking up…
I'm certainly no writer, but hopefully you enjoyed reading it. These days of Techno-everything, sometimes we loose sight of the simple pleasures.