Wet and cold on the Peak

by Jamie Dillon

Saturday night was one of those nights. Butt cold and wet. Next morning, getting over the despair, I reminded myself that one of these nights comes up each winter, so at least I'm still pushing the envelope. Bundled up with a set of layers that usually suffices, including the new Christmas thermals. It's the wet cold that knows no barriers.

That said, there was fun to be had. Jolly group spread around the Peak: At Coulter and Sunset Lot, the SW lot and all over behind the ranger's house and up the Knoll. We compared plenty of views. Everitt got the Horsehead again (about a year after the last time, at Dino) in his 15 with an Ultrablock. M42 was showing pale reds and blues in that same scope.

There was a guy new to the Peak, Derek from SF, who walked up with a nice refractor on a sharp-looking wooden tripod slung over his shoulder, looking for all the world like he'd hiked from the City that way. He took some cool specific lessons from several of us in teasing detail out of a galaxy, seeing the Horsehead, finding the E & F stars in the Trapezium, and in sorting out the 7 visible orbiting members of sigma Ori.

Otherwise I was using all my powers of concentration to keep fingers in pockets and not drop stuff. Felix was sharing views but wasn't shown anything new to him. Jardine did turn up NGC 1360, a fascinating PN. I'd seen it almost exactly a year ago at Dino, after spending plenty of time in the Fornax Cluster. The PN is at the NE corner of Fornax. I'd first mistaken it for a long galaxy. Saw "A bright rag with sharp foreground star. Fancy shape, big." Looked like a pennant with ragged edges.

In Bob's 6" Orion it looked long and oval. Turns out that sharp foreground star is the actual central star, ca mag 11.

Confounded the prophets by not only arriving well before dark but leaving around 1 am on New Moon. Finally warmed up over coffee next afternoon.

Getting wussier as the 50's proceed.