Kimberly Sibbald spent Canada Day 2019 among old bones and dim skies, taking pictures of the Milky Way peeking through darkness — or lack thereof.
Sibbald’s tenacity, know-how, ingenuity and shooting-star luck garnered her Photo of the Week for the week of February 21, 2020.
Sibbald said the image was captured in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, and she also caught a Perseid meteor in the exposure.
“The original concept was to illustrate astronomical darkness, or the lack thereof in July from a northern latitude,” Sibbald wrote. “The Canada Day long weekend was the first New Moon following summer solstice on June 21, 2019.”
“It was an important project for me personally to demonstrate the challenges all Northern amateur astronomers face,” she wrote. “Little to no darkness during the summer months when ambient temperatures co-operate. Then extended darkness in the winter months, but have to deal with frigid temperatures and equipment failures due to freezing.”
Sibbald said the image was captured on July 1, 2019 at 2:30 a.m. It is a single exposure image taken with a Canon 5DMII fully modified camera. She said she added a light pollution filter to the front of her Irix 15mm lens, and the image was captured at f/2.4 and ISO 3200, with a 15-second exposure.
Scott Champion’s shot of comet C/2017 T2 (Panstarrs) passing the Double Cluster got a very honourable mention this week.
Champion said the image was captured from his home observatory in Haneytown, N.B.
Using an iOptron CEM60 mount and an Explore Scientific ES 102ED scope operating at f/5.6 with a Stellarvue 0.8 FF/FR, Champion said he used a QHY183M camera and QHY CFW3 with Optolong filters.
For capture software, he used Sequence Generator Pro and PHD2; for image processing, he used Deep Sky Stacker, Star Tools, Microsoft ICE and Photoshop CS2.
He noted the image is a three-panel mosaic, with 20 minutes exposure per panel. Captured on January 23, he captured 30 LRGB exposures at 30 seconds each, bin 1×1.