Quick Shingletown Observing Report

by Mark Wagner

I'm surprised I could observe at all.

Denise, the bartender at the Big Wheels mixed such heavy drinks Saturday night, after two I thought the night was done.

But upon arriving back at the ranch, I hauled out my 10x50 binos and looked up.

It wasn't as good as Friday night. There was some glow around the moon, a telltale sign of a thin cloud layer. But still, even with that, there were more stars out than I see at Coe or other sites in the bay area on a new moon night.

I braced myself against my truck as Jim or Mags exclaimed what a neat naked eye sight Jupiter and M44 were, so close together. I hauled up the binos and looked... the bright gas orb next to hundreds of bright stars, all in one field of view.

I passed the binos to Pat... and braced her against me. Then Jim and Mags used the binos.

Soon I was hopping to M81 and M82, easily seen in the 10x50's. M35 was a nice ball of stars. I thought I saw M98 and M108.... kind of a haziness but very subtle.

M42 and environs were simply astounding.

I looked around for other M's, and saw quite a few. Easy in the inky black skies.

Soon, the moon was dropping... and so were the temps. I expect it was about 25F outside. All my warm stuff was in the truck.

Pat and Mags wanted to go in and get warm. Jim and I thought the skies, though excellent looking naked eye and low power, would not support much magnification, and combined with a day full of Shingletown Star Party meetings and driving around looking for observing sites, we felt it was a good idea to just turn in. So my 8" Dob stayed tucked in, in the back of my truck.

I sure had a good time at Shingletown. It is homey and comfortable.

And the skies are awesome.

Here's a photo we took of one potential observing site, panning southeast to northeast... just imagine waking up in the morning here after a full night of observing: