Tivoli, Namibia, night 7.

And another very clear night. Had my first look at the Helix nebula. Pretty easy
to see in binoculars and not a big challenge with a camera either. Wish I brought my telescope with me …

Tivoli, Namibia, night 6.

Wow, very clear skies from dusk till dawn. Imaged a lot of different objects. High number of (delta Aquarid) meteors. Temperatures dropped to -5°C but without the wind this was pretty comfortable. A great end to the night was viewing the Tarantula nebula through both the 20″ Obsession and Achim’s 17″ dobson. Truly spectacular.


Tivoli, Namibia, night 5.

Atmospheric conditions were not that good this night. Eventually thin (dark!) clouds moved in and we went to sleep early. Not a bad thing though to catch extra sleep. Managed to get a first (poor quality) picture of comet Garradd.

Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd)

Tivoli, Namibia, night 4.

Again a great night. The allsky camera caught 5 fireballs over a 12 hour period. Wandered around the grounds and shot a couple of portraits of the dobson guys. On the left Michael with the 20″ Obsession and to the right Achim with his homemade ultra leightweight 17″ dobson.

Tivoli, Namibia, night 3.

This night we had less wind but it was colder. When I went outside to shutdown the fisheye and Watec meteor camera it was -7°C. The laptop was covered in ice. Apart from the Milky Way and all kinds of deepsky objects like the Magellanic clouds, the zodiacal light with Regulus and Mercury and  the gegenschein are visible.

Tivoli, Namibia, night 2.

During the day the sky quality was not very good; hazy with lots of dust. However, during dinner (Springbok with red cabbage and rice) the very strong wind made it disappear completely. Temperature dropped to just below 0°C. Spent some time with Michael and Hubert observing with the 50cm dobson. Omega Centauri, galaxy Centaurus A, 47 Tucanae, Tarantula nebula: indescribable! New personal record in  SQM value: 21,86. Also the first time I saw the Cirrus nebula in Cygnus with my 8.5 x 42 binoculars.

Photography was a bit of a challenge with these strong winds (Bft 5), but nevertheless managed to capture a fairly decent image of the Scorpius-Ophiuchus region. Canon EOS 1000D (modded) and Canon EF 35mm/1.4L at F/2.8, 14×5 min. at ISO800 on AstroTrac mount.

Scorpius - Ophiuchus complex

Sonisphere 2011, Amnéville, France.

Koen, Lars and I visited the first ever Sonisphere festival in France. We left Holland on friday morning and arrived at the entrance of the parking lot after 5.5 hours of roadworks and traffic jams. We parked on a windy and sandy waste land, and had to walk 45 minutes with our tents, sleeping bags and other stuff before we arrived at the entrance to the campsite. The campsite was a parking lot next to the snowhall with lots of stone, gravel and, again, sand. Not ideal for pitching a tent, but we didn’t get to sleep much anyway. The festival site itself is also an old parking lot with two stages opposite one and another.

Friday night was Slipknot night. Nice surprise was Airbourne; an Australian rock band. Main headliners on Saturday were the Big 4; Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. The 2.5 hours long Metallica show with the usual amount of flames and fireworks was the perfect end to a nice festival.