Peltier Cooled Full Spectrum Modified

Canon Digital Rebel XS (1000D)

& Astro-Tech 127mm Triplet

Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park - April 10-15, 2010

by Gary Honis


Images were taken with a Peltier Cooled Full Spectrum Modified Canon Rebel XS (1000D). Overnight ambient temperatures during imaging ranged between 29 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature of the peltier cooled camera ranged between 1 degree and 15 degrees Fahrenheit allowing for reduced noise long exposure imaging with the DSLR.

Telescope used for imaging was an Astro Tech 127mm ED APO Triplet refractor at prime. The Astro Tech 127 and ED80 refractor guide scope were mounted on an Orion Atlas EQ-G mount. The EQMOD ASCOM driver was used to drive the mount directly via an EQDIR interface module.

Equipment used:

DSLR Modification Service: I am selling and converting Canon 450D, 500D and 1000D DSLR cameras for astro imaging. CLICK HERE for details.

Field Setup:

I set up in the upper field and was later joined by Elliott McKinley.

Interesting Clouds:

Image was taken on morning of April 14 as a group of filamentary cirrus clouds appeared briefly.

Venus and Mercury:

Image was taken of Venus and Mercury at 8:30pm on April 13 just after sunset with Full Spectrum Modified Canon 1000D and camera lens:



M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy - Full Frame:

30 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X667):


M106 - Spiral Galaxy - Full Frame:

51 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X667):


IC1318 (Butterfly) Complex - Full Frame:

30 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X667):



Comet C/2009 K5 McNaught & NGC 6866 Star Cluster - Full Frame:

I started this image run too late and was able to capture only 2 five-minute exposures before sunrise. The 2 exposures at ISO 1600 were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X667):


Mystery SkyGlow in the East:

Our first night on the observing field (4/10) we had a very strong zodiacal glow in the Northwest. As it got dark, we also noticed a minor glow to the East. Later, as the zodiacal light was gone, the skyglow to the East remained. During my five night stay, the skyglow varied in intensity, being the worse when we were clouded out on Monday night (4/12). The Eastern sky at Cherry Springs had always been very dark to this observer over years of observing and imaging. The new Eastern SkyGlow is now nearly as bright as the Northwestern skyglow from Coudersport. I was hoping to test a new modified DSLR camera and drive software for imaging with my 20" Starmaster in the East, in order to avoid field rotation. Slight winds kept me from doing so, but the new Eastern skyglow would also have created an imaging problem. We heard of a marcellus gas drill site in operation to the East near Germania. Germania is about 8 miles as the crow flies from Cherry Springs.

The photo below is a 30 second exposure at ISO 1600 taken towards the Eastern glow at 12:30am on April 13. The left side of the glow is orange and the right side of the glow is white light. Near the center of the glow are three white beams of collimated upward directed light. We heard of some forest fires in the area but later learned none were in that direction. The orange glow may be from High Pressure Sodium Lighting? We thought the white beams of light might be from gas drill sites, but what would cause such focused beams? We didn't notice any varying/pulsating orange light like we did last summer from the gas drill flaring to the Southwest of the park.



This is a complete 360 degree panorama of the observing field showing the Coudersport and new Eastern Skyglow:


This is a 180 degree panorama of the observing field showing the Coudersport and new Eastern Skyglow:

On Monday night (4/12) we drove to the marcellus gas well site near Germania. There was no gas flaring going on at the time and we spoke with an on-site manager who said that the gas flare had been turned off a few days earlier. The gas drill site was illuminated with three portable light standards powered by generators. The lights were all aimed sideways. We explained the white glow we were seeing from Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park and the manager said he would aim the lights down a bit to see if it helps. We were not sure after visiting the gas drill site that this was the source of the skyglow problem. We wondered if we were seeing the collective glow of many gas drill construction sites with poor lighting or flares from other drilling operations.

Germania Marcellus Gas Drill Site - Two of three light standards:

Panorama of Germania Marcellus Gas Drill Site:


Center of above photo showing vehicles and drill rig:

Light trespass from direct glare of well drill site lighting onto adjacent woods:

Will the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania protect the last small area of a natural night sky remaining in the State? Will it control gas drill site light pollution from gas flarings? Will the state prohibit the use of wasteful glare bomb lighting by the Marcellus gas drilling companies? I'm not that hopeful since Pennsylvania allowed these gas drillings by fracking before putting regulations in place and doesn't even require its own exterior lighting to be shielded and energy efficient.

For my drive home, I used Route 44 which was always an enjoyable trip for me. Not this time. I got stuck behind two gas drill site water hauling trucks and a gas drill site waste water truck. Route 44 had major potholes and areas where the shoulders of the road were broken up. PennDot has placed signs and markers to warn drivers. You can see photos that I took of Route 44 HERE.

UPDATE: 4/21/10:

Using the planetarium software "THE SKY 6" to note the Azimuth location of stars along with images I took of the Eastern horizon and its treeline, I was able to estimate the Azimuth (direction) of the three white light beams that seem to be the source of the white Eastern skyglow and also the center of the orange skyglow in the photo above. Here is the photo with the center of the orange glow and three white beams labeled:





On the map below, I used a protractor to draw lines in the direction of the center of the orange skyglow and also the location of the three white light beams. The space between the two red lines is where I estimate the three white light beams are located, based on the accuracy of the method I used. Beam #1 is in the direction of Wellsboro. Beams #2 and #3 are just north of Germania. Hopefully, someone with knowledge of the local area, marcellus gas drilling sites and terrain will be able to determine the source of these new light pollution sources.



To My Astrophotography & Digital Imaging Home Page


Canon Digital Rebel DSLR Camera -Canon 450D - Canon XSi - Refractor Telescope