Shingletown, 7/26/03

by Shneor Sherman

I arrived around 6 p.m. after a drive of 2:20 including apit and refueling stop. I set up slowly, as a number of modifications had been made to my scope recently. I was joined by Jim Ster around 7 and by Gregg Blandin around 8.

Jim and I have 22" scopes and Gregg's is a 25". I spent some time checking eyepieces and filters - eyepieces because the struts on my scope had beenshortened by 5/8" and I wanted to be sure they all came to focus (yes!). I tested a new, German (Astronomik) OIII filter against my premium Lumicon OIII. The Lumicon won on brightness of image (eastern part of the Veil), but the Astronomik at least held it's own on detail.

Viewo ing was excellent for the first 2 or three hours, then average until about 2:30 a.m. when a breeze sprung up. I removed my baffle, but there was still vibration. Gregg and I packed it in shortly after 3. Jim spent the early morning hours working on collimating his scope.

Mags had joined us during the evening, bringing with her a group from Idaho, with an 8" Orion dob, who thought the Shingletown Star Party was a month later than it actually was. They viewed with us for an hour or so, then retreated to their 8".

We viewed the Saturn Nebula in all 3 scopes - mone was the only one to show the ansae (ringlike extensions). Maybe that was due to better conditions when viewed through my scope...who knows?

I did have an excellent view of the 5350 group in Canis Venatici, as four galaxies were plainly visible and showed structure at 375x. The seeing was superb and considerable detail was visible in the Milky Way at the time. Also had nice binocular views in my 25x100 binos of a number of Messiers and early on, some galaxies in Markarian's Chain.

When I finally looked at Mars, about 2:45 a.m., the southern polar cap was striking, and some detail was visible on the surface. However, the breeze prevented good images from latency of more than a second or two at a time.

The next good weekends, IMO, are August 23 and August 30. August 30 is also the first day of Labor Day weekend. I propose a 2-day trip to Bodie for that weekend, if we don't have any forest fires in the area and the weather returns to normal. I will just mention that the last time I was at Bodie M81 was visible naked-eye. There's an excellent site (although the eastern horizon is about 15 degrees) that can accomodate up to 10 large dobs.