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Trip to Grand Mesa Observatory November 2021 (Part 1)

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to make the trek to Grand Mesa Observatory arriving Thursday November 4th staying until Sunday November 7th. It was a great trip! I was very lucky to have Terry Hancock the Director of Grand Mesa Observatory and Nancy McGuire who does outreach and public events at the observatory as well as being the President of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club as my tour guides on the Western Colorado Slope. It's a beautiful part of North America, with the gorgeous canyons of the Colorado Monument, the snaking Colorado River through most of the area and the Grand Mesa the largest flat top mountain in the world there's no lack of natural beauty in this area of Colorado.

Here's a couple shots from my iPhone of the beautiful daytime sights from the Colorado Monument. I've listed the objects' current names, I would love to know the Native Peoples names for these particularly beautiful locations, if you know them please let me know:

Independence Rock

People climbing Independence Rock through my binoculars:

Cool rocks! (not the official name but what I came up with :)

Balanced Rock!


Visiting the Colorado Monument was excellent! However, the main reason for my trip was to visit Grand Mesa Observatory where I lend time as a Beta Tester, telescope driver and general data set moocher :) Grand Mesa Observatory is a world class observatory that functions as a nonprofit entity with remote imaging, education and outreach as it's main goals. I'm honored to be able to work for and lend time to such an amazing observatory. We were able to do a lot of work reassigning telescope systems and mounting them on different piers during my visit, it was a lot of fun and very productive! Also I was so lucky to be able to visit during a moonless CLEAR weekend!!

Did I say moonless and clear? YEP! It was AMAZING! Grand Mesa Observatory is located under Bortle 2-3 skies which is dark enough where the Milky Way casts a shadow, being there during such optimal conditions was an absolute treat!

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take some Milky Way shots while visiting, I was able to get a couple mosaic's put together using my AstroHutech Mod Canon 6D and a Zeiss Milvus 1.4 35mm lens. Below are a couple I was able to put the final touches on :) More to come in Part 2!

The telescope dome centered in this image currently is used by students at the City University of New York are trying to locate and study Exoplanets with this telescope! In the sky this image captures the view looking out of our home Galaxy the Milky Way towards the Carina–Sagittarius Arm of our Galaxy. Objects to note are the California Nebula and Pleiades Star Cluster starting from the top down to the smaller red patch of sky that highlights the red nebulas of the Constellation Auriga and then down to the horizon is the hard to miss Constellation of Orion with the small and bright Rosette Nebula and Cone Nebula just to the left of Orion in this image.

Check out the full resolution here:

Technical Info: Date: 11/6/2021 ~23 frame panorama 13 sec @6400 ISO Camera: Canon 6D AstroHutech UV/IR Mod Lens: Zeiss f1.4 Milvus 35mm at f2.2 Reveal Focus Filter by David Lane.

The next image I would like to share is a larger mosaic pointed at the general Grand Mesa Observatory grounds. This image captures the Science Dome, the Roll Off Roof Observatory that houses anywhere between 6-12 different telescope/lens systems and the Air Force Dome at the Western end of the observatory grounds. In the sky in this image a very timely display of the planets in the solar system can be seen, starting from the left with Jupiter then arching below and to the right following the ecliptic is Saturn then further still is very bright Venus right above the weather station of the roll off observatory. Then moving up in this image along the Milky Way there are the bright red Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula in the Constellation Sagittarius then farther up the Omega and Eagle Nebulae in the Serpens Constellation. Further up the Milky Way is the Great Rift an area of dark nebulosity full of dark gas and dust that has a lot of structure but obscures a lot of star light on the other side of it.

Check out the full resolution here:

Technical Info: Date: 11/6/2021 ~28 frame panorama 13 sec @6400 ISO Camera: Canon 6D AstroHutech UV/IR Mod Lens: Zeiss f1.4 Milvus 35mm at f2.2 Reveal Focus Filter by David Lane.

I'll send an update to all of those subscribed with Part 2 which will have some drone footage and some more Milky Way shots of the grounds, be sure to check out Grand Mesa Observatories website at

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about this post or anything related drop me a message on the contact page:

C L E A R S K I E S!




Nov 23, 2021

Very nice astro shots, Tom! Impressive panoramas.

Nov 23, 2021
Replying to

Thanks Henry! Hope all is going well in HI and with ATLAS 😊👍🏻

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