Fiddletown, 7/3/03

by Shneor Sherman

Although I had posted the day before that I expected to be in Fiddletown Thursday night, I almost went to BC or IHOP instead, as a result ot the extremely low humidity forecast for Thursday night at those sites. However, I was dissuaded both by the traffic reports on Highways 80 and 50, and by Jane's post that she would be at Fiddletown.

I left my house in Davis at 6:05 and proceeded to contend with the traffic on 80 =- I exited the freeway and took an alternative route to the causeway, whiich probablysaved me 3 minutes. I arrived at Fiddletown around 7:20, proceeded to set up. Jane Smith arrived in short order.

MoonsetShortly after 11 p.m.
SkiesClear with no clouds
SeeingExtremely steady, 9/10
Transparency7/10 (apologies to my esteemed colleague, but I have been at Fiddletown when transparency really was 9/10 - for example, the night I saw Copeland's Septet in my 18", with all 8 galaxies visible with direct vision). However, contrast was excellent.
Equipment22" Sayre monocular
Eyepieces20mm Nagler, 13mm Nagler, 6mm Adorama Ultraview Equatorial platform

This wqs a very pleasant evening, especially after Jane doused me with Off, as this was one of the rare times mosquitos were dining off me.

I began with a low-power view of the Moon, which showed great detail, expedially with the 6mm. The sunlight part of the Moon was but a thin crescent, yey many details were visible on the earthlit part of the moon, inlcuding a prominent light crater and several maria.

I viewed Jupiter briefly at low power, and observed several belts when the image was not boiling overmuch.

I proceeded to view a number of old favorites including but not limited to M57, M8, the Veil (several times), M27, M4, M82, M51, etc.

I viewed Hickson 68, saw 4 members, and later Hickson 92 (Stephan's Quintet) where all 5 members were visible. Had a very nice view of the Crescent Nebula in Cygnus (this is a very beautiful and delicate object). I also viewed the mini-Ring in Cygnus (N6894), and the Homunculus Nebula (N7008) where the double and misshapen shell was clearly visible. Also had a nice view of M80, a very symmetrical globular resolved almost to the core with the 6mm, as well as the Bug Nebula (another double shell). Viewed Mars, where a polar cap and some surface detail was clearly visible. Finally, viewed the wonderful Helix Nebula.

All in all an amazingly productive night when you consider that the moon set after 11 p.m. and we started packing a bit after 2 a.m. Even thogh I got 8 hours' sleep the previous night, I still woke up at 5 a.m. Thursday.