Here are some pictures (as promised) of the Table Mountain Star Party 2014 in Oroville, Washington courtesy of the astrophotographer Alan Dyer. While there, he also did an excellent presentation on the skies of the southern hemisphere during his trips to Australia. Apparently the sky is much darker down under and offers more to see than what we are used to seeing in our northern skies. (That is if you can get past the numerous amounts of poisonous things out to kill you.)
In any case, this star party was amazing on top of being a really good experience for me. It rained for the first 3 days (see my picture below), but the clear skies on the last 2 nights made the entire 6 hour drive up there worth it.
My campsite (I got there early) with Star Trek pillow engaged.
I have never seen skies that dark before. I have never been around so many people that shared such similar interests to mine (hence one of the reasons I created this blog). Not going to lie, I initially thought it would be nothing more than a large gathering of old retired yuppies showing off their expensive equipment and competing to see who has a larger telescope (okay so there was a little of that going on), but It turned out to be a melting pot of several different types of people such as astronomers, scientists, pilots, old folks, couples, young families and just plain old science groupies such as myself. Everyone brought to the scope field different equipment and experience which was happily shared among all. Here is an image of the scope field right before it cleared up, while everyone was drying out their gear after the torrential downpour lol.
There was a kitchen that served up dinner each evening, but you had to pre-order these meals (which cost an astounding $15 each), and so in an effort to save some money I settled on dinners that looked more like this…
I brought my 6” dob but wasn’t able to image anything with the new smartphone mount because of the sheer brightness of my phone. I didn’t want to be “that person” that gets yelled at for ruining everyone’s vision. I was able to find M8, M13 and M31 before the dew got the best of my mirror, and the cold got the best of my fingers.
After such an epic week I decided to take the next giant leap into astrophotography and purchase my first DSLR. I will soon have a Canon Rebel T3i…so please join me as I take baby steps into this scary new world of DSLR astrophotography.