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Save the following dates in your calendar for the 2021 section meetings. All section meetings take place at the ASV Lodge or via ZOOM online.
Sunday 28th February 3:30pm - 5:00pm Topic: Introduction to Astrophotography Section and a discussion of our plans for the year ahead.
Sunday 28th March 3:30pm - 5:00pm Topic: Image Acquisition - How do we make the best use of our time in the field? - Presented by Terry Robison
Sunday 23rd May 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topic: Hayabusa2 Expedition. Presented by Alex Cherney and Diego Colonnello
Sunday 27th June 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topic: Autoguiding - Presented by Paul Litchen
Sunday 25th July 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topics: TBA
Sunday 22nd August 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topics: TBA
Sunday 19th September 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topics: TBA
Sunday 24th October 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topics: TBA
Sunday 21st November 2:30pm - 4:30pm Topics: TBA
Sunday 19th December 2:30pm - 5:30pm: This years end of Year Informal Get Together (BBQ).
Astrophotography Short Courses and Boot Camp / Field Trips
Astrophotography Short Courses consisting of 3 or 4 evening 3 hour sessions followed by a Boot Camp Field Trip are run twice a year. The course sessions are held at the ASV Lodge while the field trip is held at the Leon Mow Dark Sky Site (LMDSS). The next Short course will be held on the following dates
Dates To Be Announced
Notable images from our section members
M16 - The Eagle Nebula in narrowband
Terry Robison produced this wonderful narrowband image of M16 from his suburban home in Melbourne.
The Eagle Nebula is located in the constellation Serpens, 6,500-7000 light years away, and stretches approximately 70 by 55 light years. It is formed around a star cluster that is around 2 million years young. The nebula itself is a 5.5 million year old cloud of dust and molecular hydrogen gas, and is thought to contain several star forming regions.
Phillippe Loys de Cheseaux discovered the Eagle Nebula in the mid 18th century. But his original description was only the cluster of stars. Charles Messier independently rediscovered it in 1764 as part of his catalogue, giving it the catchy name of M16.
Located in the top left hand side of the image, there is an incredible looking structure known as the Stellar Spire. It is roughly 9.5 light years long. Cosmic sea horse?
Enjoy this amazing view while you can as both the Spire and the Pillars in the Eagle Nebula are already likely to be gone. 8500 years ago, a supernova explosion created massive shock waves moving through the nebula. This process would have taken thousands of years to sweep through the region, in the end, destroying the delicate structures.
If you access to a fairly modest low powered telescope, or even with a pair of binoculars, you will be able to view this nebula from a dark location. You should be able to see around twenty stars, surrounded by gas and dust.
Image Details:Resolution:0.804 arcsec/pixFocal length: 2309.84 mm (9.1) Pixel size:9.00 um Image processing with CCDStack and Photoshop.
There is a Spyder 4 Pro Monitor Calibration device available for short-term loan, which may help you calibrate the brightness and colour of your monitor for image processing. The unit should be returned to each section meeting at the ASV Lodge and can then be passed on to somebody else. It can also be handed over from one person to another in between as well.
Leon Mow Dark Sky Site
New Moon Weekends
The LMDSS site has 240V power, 4 berth cabins, clubrooms, showers, gas bbq, kettle, tank water and toilets.
Any weekend with a promising weather forecast and not much moonlight will see a good number of people on the astrophotography field at LMDSS capturing images with a wide range of equipment. Because this is so weather dependent, people do not finalise plans until just a few days beforehand. The weather is often better at Heathcote (north of the divide) than in Melbourne so don’t make a decision not to go based on what you see out the window in town.
Aside from at Star Parties, there are no formal activities organised at LMDSS but new members are welcome to attend and see other astrophotographers in action. It is helpful to announce to the Yahoo Group your plans to attend and ask if there is somebody who can show you what’s going on. Most astrophotographers will be busy for the first hour or so of the night as they get their equipment setup and running smoothly. If you can wait till after this setup period, they will be in a much better position to explain their equipment and how they are using it.
Please note that if it has been declared a day of Total Fire Ban for the Northern District of country Victoria then the LMDSS will be closed for the period of the total fire ban.
Piers and Storage Locker
There are six permanent piers on the astrophotography field and a storage locker on the north side of the field.
The storage locker contains tools including full set of metric and imperial Allen Keys as well as a spare tripod and counterweight to suit EQ6 mounts.
Three pier adapters are available for EQ6 mounts and are also kept in the storage locker along with the necessary nuts and bolts. First in first served but somebody on site can reserve one for somebody arriving later. Aside from at star parties, it would be unusual for all three pier adapters to be in use.
If you would like to get your own pier adapters made to suit your mount, the template for the piers is available in the Files section of the Yahoo Group. Speak to the Section Director if you would like to seek funding for new pier adapters.
There are 240V power outlets on the astrophotography field but you should bring a power board and a long extension lead to run to your equipment. There are occasional power outages (particularly on busy nights), so it is advisable to run your mount and other critical gear from a small 12V battery with a battery charger keeping it topped up. That way if the power does trip, the battery will keep your mount running until power is restored but the battery charger means you only need a small battery. A laptop can be plugged directly to the 240V supply as its own battery will keep it running during an outage.
Astrophotography Observatory at LMDSS
The ASV has setup a fully functional observatory facility for all members, including beginners to use.
Booking the dome. For those who have been trained can book this facility here:
A motorised 3m Sirius Dome houses an EQ6 mount with 10" F5 Carbon Fibre Newtonian OTA and a ZWO Cooled CMOS ASI071 Pro camera with advanced computer control of the whole setup.
Access to the observatory is available to those who been trained and assessed as competent (and trustworthy!).
Training should be arranged with Gavan Salter. If you are interested in a Training Session you can contact Gavan by email email@example.com or phone 0419 119 778
Make sure you follow the printed instruction manual and sign the logbook and report any issues.
Bring along a USB stick and you can take the image data captured home with you. Members are also encouraged to share captured image data so that others can try their hand at image processing.
Although not specifically for astrophotographers, feel free to gather informally at Club Section meetings (on the first and last Friday of the month, public holidays excepted) at the ASV Lodge - check the calendar in Crux or the ASV website) to chew the fat about astronomy and photography. Bring along even beginner images to show and you will probably find a willing audience. You can also bring your equatorial mount along and practise polar alignment or focus in the backyard if the weather is good and might find others there who can help.
The ASV Library at the Melbourne Observatory has many books on astrophotography which are free for members to borrow and are a great resource for beginners. You can see a list of the available books on the ASV website: http://asv.org.au/library
The Library is open on nights of the general meetings in the Herbarium.
Make It Happen
The Astrophotography Section is a network of people within the ASV. Many of the active members are fairly new to the hobby who can help each other along the journey. Members are encouraged to initiate their own informal gatherings to complement the formal monthly meetings at ASV Lodge or dark sky nights at Heathcote.
So feel free to announce on the Yahoo Group your plans to attend a Friday night Club Section meeting at ASV Lodge or invite others to join you for a night of beginner astrophotography at a public location on your side of town. Even a small group of beginners can find many ways to help each other.