Good night at Coulter

by Jamie Dillon

Saturday night sure started out looking disappointing. Layers of clouds kept rolling over. Everitt said it sucked on ice, a fine expression and new to me. There were two folks also new to me, Glenn and Dwayne. Also Peter, Jim, Michael and Blanchard, plus count Liam in. Michael did lay out a spread, with krab salad, ceviche, crackers, rolls and all kinds of sweet treats.

By 9 o'clock it had gotten real quiet. Everitt was the last sacrifice and effectively tipped the scales. I got going on M35, swapped views with Liam, sat and studied that magnificent cluster. Turns out Scotty Houston said it was his favorite OC. Looked over the sky and it was staying clear, ready for some hard science. Started south from the head of Hydra and got a pair of galaxies in the center of the eyepiece on first pop. Yesss. Just then, Jeff went, "You got a sec? You'll want to see this." He was right.

NGC 2467, favorite of Jeff's off the Boyd Edwards list. A superior EN. One main gout of nebulosity full of veins. Darklane to N, another smaller lane to E. Bright triangular wedge of stars to E with nebulosity, brighter in OIII. Cassiopeia shape of stars to S, also with imbedded nebulosity, brighter in OIII. This is a great object that somehow isn't on most highlight lists. Bright, complex, fascinating starforming region. A must for any medium-sized scopes.

The rest of the night, Glenn was working quietly away at the end of Coulter Row, and the fun didn't stop. Blanchard had mentioned dew as a minor inconvenience, showing his ongoing stoicism. My secondary got wet for the first time ever. The bottom lenses on my eyepieces were dewing over. Big drops on everything. This was from about 2 am on, so there had been some quality time up front. Found an OC with neighbor PN in the same eyepiece field, near 2467. These are 2453 and 2452. Got some more galaxies in Hydra as well, an interesting field a ways south of Hydra's head, along a line of 3 bright stars. 2708 and 2695, with two little neighbors 2698-9 in the middle, and 2697 just north of 2695, all in the same wide eyepiece field. 2708 was the most interesting visually, leggy with dust lanes, a miniature of M81. I found the 4 that are charted in SkyAtlas plus 1, while UM2000 shows two more in that area.

And yes I studied Saturn and environs. Earlier in the evening, when I put Saturn out of the field, around a little star due south of Titan there was a parenthesis of nebulosity. It stayed still and was clearly real, but that was it. Later at night, just east of the rings there was a larger area of filamentary nebulosity.

For dessert, started up in southern Ursa Major, below the Bowl, with 3184, right off mu UMa, a big face-on galaxy that'll want return visits. This kicked off one of my two spring projects, along with southern Virgo, south of M61.

Passed a century mark, with 604 DSO's in the logs, after the first night with a set of new finds since CalStar. 5th hilltop trip since then but the first solid night. Yeyesss. (This was with Felix, a Celestron 11" f/4.5 Dobs with optics made by Discovery Telescopes, and very clean shiny mirrors they are. Was using a 22 Pan, 16mm UO Koenig, and a10mm Radian.)

Back out tonight, to the FPOA knoll.