Plettstone, February 1-2, 2003

by Michelle Stone

It was indeed a good weekend. Friday night was not spectacular. We had heavy fog until 10PM but it did clear nicely by midnite. The seeing on Friday was rather mushy. Saturday was pretty good and Sunday was absolutely clear all night and the seeing was quite good. I've learned not to trust the weather forecasts for Plettstone. The lake and mountain range to the west of us create a micro climate. On Saturday afternoon, I watched as ugly storm clouds rushed up the Merced river valley to the peaks of Yosemite.... just a couple of miles away.

I spent half of my time looking at bright favorites with the binoviewer on the C14 outfitted with 19mm Panoptics. Saturn and Jupiter were... well, they were outstanding. At times, I thought that I was looking through a nice refractor on Sunday night. The moons were perfect little orbs and the detail was amazing. I looked at the big galaxies in Canes and Ursa Major with the binos. These afford a depth of detail that I've not experienced before.

Although I've seen all the NGC objects in Canes, I am still amazed at all the wonderful galaxies in that constellation. I removed the binoviewers and spent the remainder of my time switching between a 40mm Pentax eyepiece (about 100x) and a 19mm Panoptic. The 40mm Pentax is great for the long focal length of the C14.

So I bumped around in Canes looking at many of the dimmer objects... bringing up fond memories of when I had no facilities at the observatory (like a latrine). It was very enjoyable.

I then dove into Coma looking at many of the objects I've not seen before. I was turning 14th mag galaxies quite easily due to the dark conditions. On Sunday night, the fog settled in the central valley and the sky sparkled. I'll typically hit the hot tub early in the evening, but conditions were too nice for that... I just observed.

I was surprised that even though the thermometer indicated a temperature just above freezing, I didn't get cold.

I had a great weekend.