Peltier Cooled Canon 450D (XSi)

Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien Astrograph

Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park - July 26 - August 2, 2011

by Gary Honis


Images were taken with a Peltier Cooled Modified Canon 450D (XSi).

Telescope used for imaging was an Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph at prime. The Astro Tech RC and ED80 refractor guide scope were mounted on an Orion Atlas EQ-G mount. The EQMOD ASCOM driver was used to drive the mount directly via an EQDIR interface module.

Equipment used:

DSLR Modification Service: I am selling and converting Canon 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 1000D & 1100D DSLR cameras for astro imaging. CLICK HERE for details.

Out of our seven nights at the park we had four clear nights and one partly cloudy. On our last night, we were treated to good transparency and steady seeing, which is rare in PA. The daytime temperatures were comfortable with overnight observing mostly in the 50's. On one evening at sunset we had a rare sighting of continuous crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays across the entire clear sky. We had one night of observing under clear skies while lightning storms flashed low on the horizon and took the opportunity to search for transient luminous events. We were treated to very steady seeing one morning, very rare at this location, and were able to observe and image fine detail on Jupiter. We became very worried this New Moon because we noticed a skyglow to the South that was never their before. Our concern was possible new light pollution from Marcellus Gas Well Drill Site Flarings so we made a road trip to search for the source.

This was my third time using the Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph (AT6RC) for deep sky images. My star images with the scope were affected by what I believed was a fan that went bad, but the problem may have been from a loose drive clutch.

Sharpless 2-101 - Tulip Nebula - July 27, 2011:

61 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1100X732).

NGC 7023 - Iris Nebula - August 1, 2011:

40 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display ((1100X732).

NGC 7380 (Sharpless 2-142) - July 31, 2011:

39 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display ((1100X732).

Comet C/2009 P1 (Gerradd) - July 27, 2011:

29 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display ((1100X732).

Jupiter - 5:10am morning of August 2, 2011:

91 frames out of a total of 7200 frames of 2 minute movie file were stacked in Registax 5. A Canon 550D (T2i) DSLR camera was used in the special 640 X 480 crop mode at 60 frames per second capture.

Crepuscular and Anticrepuscular Rays (God's Fingers)- 8:50pm on July 30, 2011:

Canon 550D (T2i) was used with 18mm lens. This was a rare event in that the sky was perfectly clear and the rays stretched from the setting Sun, overhead and continued all the way to the Southeastern horizon!

Crepuscular Rays - looking West:

Anticrepuscular Rays - looking Southeast:


Transient Luminous Events (TLE's) - 9:42pm to 11:18pm - August 1, 2011:

The skies were clear overhead for observing and imaging, but storms were low on the horizon to the north and moving to the east. I was taking 10 second exposures using a non-modified Canon 550D with kit lens at 18mm, f3.5 and ISO 1600. Exposures began at 9:42 pm and ended at 11:18 pm. I only found two images with what I thought may be some type of TLEs. The two images were taken at 10:50:15 pm and 10:52:03 pm.

Here is the radar image with the distances from Cherry Springs marked to the beginning and end of the storm on radar:

Image at 10:50:15pm with possible TLE circled:

Image at 10:52:03 pm with two possible TLEs circled. The one on the right has a plane passing by it.

This is a GIF animation of the above two images (Press F5):


For Hi-def (720P) Youtube Video of all frames taken along with narrative:CLICK HERE

Light Pollution to the South of Observing Field:

Yikes!! During this New Moon period we noticed skyglow too the South of the observing field. This has been historically the darkest part of the night sky at Cherry Springs. The brightness of the glow matched that of the glow from Coudersport to the Northwest. Our first thoughts were Marcellus Gas Well Drill Site Flarings must be starting up southeast of the field. Elliott McKinley drove us on the night of 7/27 into the morning hours of 7/28 on single lane dirt roads South of Cherry Springs in search for the light pollution source(s). We ended up at Cross Fork and made the return trip back to Cherry Springs on Route 144 passing Ole Bull park. We stopped at the Cherry Springs Vista Overlook just South of the park near the Cherry Springs Fire Tower on Route 44 and were shocked to see skyglows from upward directed light pollution across the entire visible horizon.

Cherry Springs Vista Overlook - Daytime:

Cherry Springs Vista Overlook - 2:00am on July 28, 2011: This is an animated .GIF file and you may need to have scripting enabled in your browser for it to cycle between the nighttime and daytime images. (PressF5)

From the observing field at 10:30pm on July 29, I took images using a Canon 550D (T2i) camera. We set up behind the stand of pine trees at the South end of the field on the gravel road. 30-second images were taken at ISO 1600 and f3.5 with an 18mm lens and stitched together using Photomerge for this panorama. The streak in the Southeastern sky is not a comet; it's a jet trail illuminated by upward directed light pollution.

Scroll to the right to see the entire panorama image:

For images taken at Cherry Springs the previous New Moon CLICK HERE.

For images taken at Cherry Springs the May New Moon CLICK HERE.

Other astro images with the modified 450D: CLICK HERE

My Astro YouTube videos: CLICK HERE


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