I had decided to go to the Staunton River Star Party this year. I had been once before and really enjoyed the dark skies. I had planned out what targets I wanted to shoot and decided M63 would be my main target. I had hoped to get at least 8 hours of data on M63 and if the weather played nice I could get more.
I arrived Wednesday to heavy winds, snow flurries, and cold temps. I picked a spot, set up the mount and then the tent. The wind made things tough. More than a few people had their tents go flying across the field. The clouds started to go away right at nightfall and the skies were pretty and clear… for a few minutes. Then some high-level clouds rolled in. Guiding was terrible, the cold air was getting to me, and I was tired. I decided the clouds, seeing, and cold air had won and I went into my tent. I popped my head out after a little while and it had cleared up. I had left the rig tracking/guiding and started the sequence up again. The guiding was better but far from what I normally get. I enjoyed the stars for a bit and looked through a couple of scopes, but the cold air was just too much. I let the rig run and went into my tent. The wind had calmed down quite a bit but picked up in the morning. The tent was taking a beating and the seeing forecast got worse every time I checked. I decided the cold weather, winds, and lackluster seeing was enough. I decided to pack up and go home. I found the tent had several cracks in the poles from the wind.
I got home and didn’t have high hopes for the data. I was pretty critical of what made it into the stacks. I ended up with only 2.5 hours of data. I was surprised with the quality I was able to get with from 2.5 hours of dark sky data.
It’s not as good as I’d like. But with all the issues It’s not a terrible image.
Thanks for looking.