Lake Sonoma, 2/1

by Shneor Sherman

After a drive of less than two hours I arrived at 4:10 pm and explored a couple of other sites further up the road, but all were closed. I returned to Grey Pine Flat and set up. While setting up, Matt Marcus from Berkeley arrived with his 8" SCT and Ranger, and Steve Gottlieb joined us around dusk.

The skies wre very transparent in the earlier part of the evening, though it was a bit breezy. As the night went on, the winds pretty much died down, except for occasional gusts. For most of the evening, the sky glow to the southeast was considerable less than I have previously experienced here - I think it must have been the result of clear, dry air over the entire area. The seeing varied considerably during the night; sometimes 340x was fine, other times 225x was the max usable magnification. I observed nice green and pinkish color in M42 with a variety of eyepieces, viewed a variety of objects in Eridanus, Orion, Monoceros, Canis Major, Corvus, Crater, Leo, Virgo, Ursa Major, Hercules, Coma and Leo Minor during the couurse of the evening. It was quite cold and I had to bundle up, but there was no dew problem whatsoever.

Steve showed us several Sharpless objects and a dwarf galaxy or two. He left a bit after midnight (due to social obligations) and Matt and I continued observing. Matt showed me a few interesting objects in his 8".

Around 1 a.m. a medium-sized RV pulled in and parked nxt to the porta-potty. They quickly extinguished their lights, and a young - maybe teenage? - lady come over, introduced herself as Megan, and asked if she could view; naturally we obliged. So I showed her M51 (spiral arms very clearly visible) and then I talked her through Markarian's chain - Matt showed her Jupiter, Saturn, a globular and perhaps another object or two. She returned to the RV with a male, and they pulled out about 2 a.m. At 3 I began packing, and I left Matt at about 3:50 am. Got home at 5:30 a.m.

It was a fun night, even though the transparency got a bit worse after 1 a.m. or so. So much to see! So little time!