After checking the north-western horizon every night, noctilucent clouds finally appear.
Still in lockdown and not allowed to go out at night (curfew). My balcony has only limited views to the south, so there’s not much choice in objects to image. And with unusual amounts of snow on the ground the skies are even worse than the usual Bortle 8/9, but the Optolong L-eXtreme filter is a powerful tool.
I tried something new. I drilled holes in the wooden deck of my balcony so that the legs of a photo tripod stand stable on the underlying concrete. The Rainbow Astro RST-135 mount with a William Optics WhiteCat telescope placed on the photo tripod. The polar-alignment routine of the Staraid autoguider used to align the mount (the balcony is positioned on the south side of the building). I could only see the planet Mars (thanks to Bortle 9 scale and a lot of direct illumination) but through plate solving (also via the Staraid) the California nebula could be found. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and after only 5 shots it started to rain.
Comet C/2020 M3 (ATLAS) near the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) and the Starfish Cluster (M38). Just 18 minutes of exposures before fog took over.
Shot the North America nebula from the city center (Bortle scale 8/9) despite high clouds and humidity. I used a Borg 125 SD (f=480mm) combined with a STC astro duo narrow band filter. Camera was a Canon EOS Ra, 10x5min at ISO1600, Rainbow Astro RST135 mount, guiding through Staraid. Due to the terrible seeiing the stars are a bit bigger than usual.
The weather forecast was unclear until the last minute. This week all records were broken with temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius for several days. However, the predicted thunderstorms cleared and we were only bothered by patches of (high) clouds. After moonrise, the sky background became a bit lighter, but nevertheless we saw some beautiful meteors.