Plettstone, 3/28

by Shneor Sherman

Driving thru rush-hour traffic, it took 3 hours to get to Plettstone (just 2 hours 35 minutes driving back - 168 miles). I arrived at dust and set up. While there's lots of space, only a relatively small area is shielded from a couple of lights on a hill to the northwest, which are a bit of a distraction. The night began with a bank, but soon turned into a whimper as we went to about a 1.5 mag sky for awhile, and clouds to the south and west lit up the area. It cleared up a bit by nidnight.

Michelle is very hospitable, showed me her observatory, and told me about the place. There were 4 or 5 SF folks there, the largest telescope other than mine was a 17.5" with a neat 3-strut design. Horizons are similar in quality to Fiddletown.

Had some nice views with my 18" as the seeing was outstanding (9/10) although transparency was 6/10 at best, and mostly worse. Still, I did have some nice high-power views (686x). But the 25x100s were spectacular again. I'm dying to use them under really dark, transparent skies, as they should easily show 12th mag objects. And objects in Sagittarius were great, even though the poor transparency cut out a good deal of the nebulosity in the Lagoon, for example.

Michelle explained that Plettstone has it's own microclimate due to a nearby lake, and that therefore CSC forecasts are often inaccurate as far as clouds and transparency.

I can't go out tonight but I'm planning to be out again Sunday night. Right now, Esparto, of all places, looks to be reasonable. Maybe if I go there, the neighbor will shut the barn lights too...