SSP 2003 what a ball!

by Rashad Al-Mansour

I want to thank Mark, Jim Ster and the community of Shingletown for organizing and hosting such a great event!

I had a real blast, five straight nights under some of the darkest skies I've had the pleasure to observe under! Sweeping a wide area in and around the Sagittarius Star Cloud, using a 35mm Panoptic in my Genesis SDF, revealed an awesome sea of pinpoint stars. So thick in some spots it was difficult to see the void beyond. M101 through my 16" Truss was close to photographic, the bright knots imbedded in 101, NGC's 5462, 5461 and 5447 stood out like beacons. M101's companion 15th mag. PGC 49919 was almost missed because of the bright star SAO 28976 but I could just pick it out through the stars glare. The 16"er riding on the Johnsonian Type V equatorial platform is a match made for the heavens. This combination allowed me to really study M101 for as long as I wanted.

It would take me a month to write a proper observing report but some highlights for me were, the hour or so I spent with Tom Osypowski using his fabulous 24" f/4.1 all aluminum truss tube dob! This scope is to die for! The view of M51 through Jim Ster's 30"er the detail seen under the dark skies of Shingletown were breathtakingly beautiful. Viewing the Sun with Binoviewers and the Coronado 90mm SolarMax.

If I'd have had food for a couple more days.....

P.S. How could I forget the public event Saturday night! With the line of people I had waiting to take a look through my scope you'd have thought I had a 30"er! What a great crowd!

I mentioned Tom's 24" scope but forgot to say that we were using a Denkmeier Binoviewer. As Tom said, M11 looked more like the Borg Cube than the Wild Duck!