Well, guess what I've been doing? Yep, the moon is taking its leave so out to the dark skies I go! I went back to Ranch Venado for a couple of great nights Monday and Tuesday. I tried to go down Sunday, but my new truck took a dump (the on board computer fried) about 70 miles from home in 106 degree heat (loaded with all my gear), and I had to get a pricey tow truck ride back to Dallas -- bummer.
But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I borrowed my folks truck and reloaded and headed back the next day. And it was worth it!
My astro buddy max was working at Fort Hood (about 40 miles away), so he came out both nights. We stayed up until sunshine both nights, taking advantage of the good skies.
While max focused on the Cocoon Nebula, I aimed at the Gamma Cygni Nebula and the Elephant Trunk (coming soon).
Anyway, here is my Gamma Cygni. It is approximately 7000 light years away. The brightest star (Sadr) is not actually part of the nebula, but resides in the foreground about half way between us and the nebula.
This was the first trip I was actually able to use autoguiding (using a second scope and camera attached to the main scope that tracks a "guide star" and allows for VERY precise tracking and longer exposure times). This image is the result 18 x 10 min exposures... 3 hours total.