Montebello Sunday night; Do you believe in miracles?

by Marek Cichanski

I don't know who the TV announcer was during 1980's "Miracle on Ice", but I felt like he should have been at Montebello late on Sunday night - it may not have been perfect, but compared to the way things have been, it felt downright miraculous.

I drove up the ridge on a hunch and a prayer on Sunday evening. Clouds were still hanging around, but they'd been dissipating dramatically over the last few hours. Maybe, just maybe, they'd dissipate enough to allow some observing.

The MB parking lot looked like the descriptions that you read of Woodstock - a sea of mud. All it lacked was Jimi Hendrix playing the national anthem. In fact, the rangers had about 2/3 of it coned off, because someone had been 'doing donuts' on the muddy parts, and they'd chewed it up pretty good with their tires.

I set up shortly after sunset, making sure to get the Kendrick heaters up and running - it was a very dewy night. Sean, an observer I hadn't met before, set up an LX200. We were joined a little while later by an observer named Peter, whom I'm pretty sure I've met, and his friend who's name I didn't catch.

For the first couple of hours, clouds were still intermittently coming over the ridge. We had to hit targets of opportunity, and hit them fast. The wind was still there, although not too terribly strong. Seeing and transparency were decent, but not spectacular. (Still, they were a heck of a lot better than looking at the underside of a cloud!) By about 11 or 11:30, however, the clouds had pretty much cleared completely, and the wind died away to almost nothing. From then until I left at 1:45, you could take it for granted that the sky would stay clear. I stayed late - this was too good to pass up! Sleep, schmeep. 'You can sleep when you're dead', I kept telling myself.

This was an 'eye candy' night, so I mostly looked at Messiers. Here's what I managed to see, sorted by object type and then by the rough order in which I saw things:

Jupiter looked alright at 100x. Ditto the crescent Moon.

Double stars: Rasalgethi, Double-Double, Cor Caroli, Albireo.

One nebula: The Ring. One open cluster: The Beehive.

Globulars: Messiers 3, 5, 13, 80, 19, 4, 10, 12, and Omega Centauri.

Galaxies: Hopped along Markarian's Chain a couple of times. Messiers 81, 82, 65, 66, 95, 96, 87, 85, 59, 60, 58, 89, 90, 91, 98, 99, 100, 104, 64, 94, 51, 52, NGCs 4565, 4608, 4596, and Centaurus A (5128?).

Still clear when I left. About 40 degrees F. Saw 6 deer on the way down Page Mill. The fatigue I'm feeling this morning is well worth it! Yes, Virginia, there really are stars beyond those clouds!