50° North, 8° East, these are approximately the coordinates where I live and where I do astronomy as a pastime.

Telescope shelter As a member of our local club, the Amateur Astronomers of the Rheingau (AAR), I have the privilege to use the club's observatory on the Rheinberger Hof, a farm near the little village of Presberg. Presberg is situated north of the Taunus-ridge on an elevated plain at an altitude of 380 meters, surrounded by the valleys of Groloch, Wisper and the Ernstbach. This "mesa" is the westernmost location usable for astronomy that can be reached from my home without crossing the Rhine. Driving distances increase seriously in order to get farther away from the Rhine-Main-area.


Light pollution in the greater Rhine-Main-area, © AVEX 2006 The Rheingau is situated on the western edge of the greater Rhine-Main-area, an agglomeration of 2,500 km2 with about 2.2 million inhabitants, numerous towns and cities, the Frankfurt airport and industrial areas with the corresponding light pollution.
Air pollution improved considerably since the 1970s, so transparency often is quite good despite the high humidity caused by the river Rhine, but light pollution and the growth of the light pollution domes increased massively. Contrails are more and more responsible for thin cloud-decks during phases of fair weather.
In spite of the proximity to the greater Rhine-Main-area at the site of the AAR-observatory in an average night the milkyway is clearly visible, in the zenith finely structured; M31 almost always can be seen with the naked eye. But in the east fainter objects below 40° elevation disappear in the glow, in the south it is the same below 20° elevation. So the summer milkyway-objects in Sagittarius or Scorpion are seldom seen to advantage.
In an average night I would rate our skies according to the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale a 4 (Rural/suburban transition), in a rare good night it gets a 3 (Rural sky).


White Elephant at work After I realized that my favourite deep sky-objects could be extracted again from the orange-grey murk with the help of digital cameras and image-processing tools, I changed from solely visual observing to photography.
I started with a DSLR, a Canon EOS 300D attached to 4- and 6-inch-optics, and a long and still ongoing fight with and against complex equipment started. For a long time the goal was only getting an ever growing complex system to work as it should do in my opinion. Sometimes I succeeded, there are images.
Since the summer of 2008 I use a SBIG ST10XME and QSI320ws CCD-camera and try to keep up with the challenge again. It's still far from perfection, but it keeps getting better.

In March 2009 the first long exposures with larger optics were produced, since April 2014 with a 40-centimeter Newton.

New images

... and some more.

© Friedhelm Hübner, last revision: 16.01.2017