Les Granges, September 2009

I first visited Les Granges Astronomy Centre in August 2008. And returned in September 2009, for six days from 21st to 27th, this time flying into Nice airport.

On the approach to Nice we flew past some serious money in the form of villas and luxury motor yachts at Antibes.

The drive to Les Granges skirting the Maritime Alps passes through beautiful and awe inspiring scenery with high mountains, narrow gorges and charming villages. Here is a small selection of photographs, one taken through the car windscreen where it was impossible to park!












I chose some pretty faint targets for this visit, expecting the clear dark skies of Les Granges to help with the imaging. But some of them were even more difficult than I anticipated, and this and LBN777 below probably need a full week each! This faint nebula is LBN442 in Lacerta. My SBIG ST-10XME on Olly's Takahashi FSQ85. Luminance 17 x 10 minutes H-alpha, Colour Ha with 3 each x 10 minutes O3 and S2. The night of 21st. September.

Full size

I chose the brighter NGC7822 in Cepheus for its interesting dark lanes and intrusions. Optics as above, Luminance 17 x 10 minutes H-alpha, Colour Ha with 11 x 10 minutes each O3 and S2. Captured over two nights 22nd and 23rd.

Full size

A bit of Solar viewing on 23rd September. I had a QHY5 monochrome camera with me. This is essentially a guide camera, but the good sized chip nicely encompasses the Sun on my Solarview 50. A group of small sunspots and an interesting bright area as well as several small prominences.

LBN777 in Taurus is also known as the Vulture's Head nebula. A late target for September, so again imaged over two nights, the early hours of 23rd and 24th. Luminance 17 x 10 minutes, RGB each 6 x 5 minutes binned 2x2 due to shortage of time. A very faint low contrast target which really deserves a lot more data. Optics as for LBN442 and NGC7822. The dark 'head' area is also classified as Barnard 207.

Full size

On 24th, we fitted Olly's 10" Meade SCT to the mount, and early in the evening imaged Jupiter. The moon shadow is that of Ganymede. Toucam with 3x Televue Barlow, stack of 1100 frames.

Following Jupiter, I fitted a 0.63 reducer to the SCT and attempted to image the large (5 arc-minutes) but faint (mag 12.7) planetary nebula, Jones 1 in Pegasus. But unfortunately the sky misted over and cut short the imaging run. So this monochrome image consists of 6 x 10 minute subs, binned 2x2 with the ST10.

That completed the imaging. Although Friday night started out promising, and I began imaging the Helix nebula using Olly's Meade 127 refractor, the sky soon developed patchy mist, and insufficient data was collected. Likewise the Saturday night never cleared sufficiently after the thunderstorms.

I took my Solarview50 Hydrogen alpha telescope with me. Mounted on Olly's Televue Gibraltar mount it gave us some excellent views of the Sun. The binocular eyepiece, although making viewng less comfortable gives a superb rendition. It's not possible with the binocular to use a star diagonal - insufficient back focus.

With a hi-tech Sun screen viewing became even better!

Although it was September, eating outside was still very pleasant. L to R, Olly's partner Monique, her daughter Gentian, Tom O'Donoghue who was guesting at the same time, and Olly.

I'm in this one!

While we all-night observers were sleeping through the mornings, Monique and Gentian picked mushrooms in the hills behind the house. Delicious!

On my last day (Saturday) there were thunderstorms floating around with a fair bit of rain. and this Salamander appeared in the late evening (taken with the camera flash).

The following morning the mist which curtailed our imaging still formed a temperature inverted carpet in the valley. Fortunately it soon cleared during my return journey to Nice.