Lake Sonoma last night

by Andrew Pierce

Well the CSC, satellite pictures, forecasts, and the sky itself looked terrible last night so I made no effort to get up to Santa Rosa in a timely manner last night. But when I got around Cotati I noticed the limited magnitude was no worse than say Los Altos on a clear night except it was darker, but less transparent.

So when I got to S.R. I quickly checked into my hotel and went on up to Lake Sonoma, arriving a little before 11:00. Grey Rock was open and the sky was comparable, limiting magnitude wise, to Montebello on a clear night. It was in the lower 50s and breezy. This is where having a 14.5 inch Teleport pays off. I set up, observed for a little over an hour and left.

The haze was sort of striped so there were some large not too hazy areas. The best conditions were found within 20 degrees or so of the zenith, so I stayed in Canes Venatici and Ursa Major for the most part. There was a bad light dome to the SE and objects as low as say M3 were noticeably less good than the overhead objects. The haze probably made observing with the 14.5 comparable to a clear night with a 10 or 11 inch scope. The sky did get better so by the time I left I was seeing all the stars in the Little Dipper, hardly a zenithal area.

Anyway I got nice looks at a bunch of galaxies, but I haven't had time to go through my notes. M106 and its companion was especially outstanding, however. M51 showed spiral structure easily. And I saw lots of NGCs as well.