Last saturday, after lots of garden testing and software checks, I've finally been able to drive to a dark place for a few deep sky shots.

The driving part itself was the most "scary", as I'm still new to driving in the "wrong side" of the road... Getting the hang of it, though..

I chose to go observing with the HantsAstro stargazing group.. they met in a quite dark site (at least for being not too far from London), and their website and facebook pages really did inspire me. I'm really glad I joined them, as it was a really pleasant evening, with lots of nice people.

My target for the evening was the center of the Cygnus constellation, between Deneb and Sadr. It's an area full of nebulae, perfect for a wide field lens. Technical data, together with stars and object names, can be found in the astrobin technical page.

Cygnus' heart

Last week, a CalSky alert email reminded me about a close passage of the International Space Station to the bright Arcturus, in the Bootes constellation.

Alessia was here, so we catched this opportunity to do some "garden astronomy" together, watching the passage while also trying to record it on camera.

My assistant

Setup ready

Jupiter, Spica, and Arcturus

Work in progress

The idea was to do two shots: a wide field, with my large sensor ASI1600mm and an 85mm lens, and a narrow field with the telescope.

It was a beautiful, almost hot evening. Unfortunately, not everything went as planned: the ISS was passing a bit further then expected, since I forgot to update my location coordinates in CalSky, so the telecope shooting was missed, and a few technical issues, plus me choosing the wrong recording duration on the shooting program, almost made me miss the passage itself even on the wide field.

But after a few minutes, without even knowing if the recording was actually successful, looking the frames I was able to spot this bright strip moving through the stars. Although this was meant to be just a "backout shooting", it's still a good catch. We also recorded a hint of a plane passing through the field, at the end of the passage.

IIS passing by Arcturus