MB, 7/27/03

by Casey Fukuda

I second Jeff's quick note. Montebello was short sleeves all night and the seeing was a little soft. That didn't stop us from getting some pretty good views of Mars when it finally got about 25 or 30 degrees above the horizon. That was nearly 1AM. The polar ice cap was bright white and easily defined. The disk is very large and bright. During moments of good seeing, dark areas of surface detail shown through.

I arrived to find Jeff Crilly parking his SUV. Jeff set up his homemade "not so" ultra light 8" reflector sitting on a G11 mount. Quite an impressive looking telescope. Marek Cichanski pulled into the parking lot moments later. James from La Honda set up his extra long focal length refractor. A classic scope right out of the science fiction movies from when I was a kid. James showed me some great stereo views of Mars with his binoviewers. Wendy, the mpeg compression software engineer, wondered into the parking lot with a keen curiosity of our scopes, ccd cameras and all things in the sky.

My very good friend, Rodney Hines and his son Ben, showed up with the hope of getting some views thru an XT10. Their's (XT10) is back ordered at Orion and should be in any day now. Marek and James Turley obliged their desires to see what kind of views to expect from their soon to be new scope. They were duly impressed with the XT10's performance and I'm sure feel their anticipation more intensely after last night.

Marek's XT10 is really looking otherworldly these days. He's gathered all the wires and cleaned up the additions to his scope and I must say, it's looking really awesome in it's current form. Sitting atop it's equatorial platform, I'd call it a "rig" more than anything else.

Andrew Pierce arrived later but right about when the parking lot was abuzz with discussion, comraderie and a general party atmosphere. At one point there were 4 or 5 green lasers slicing up the sky. Good thing Jeff Crilly wasn't imaging then.

At about midnight, James Turley started making some noise down by his XT10. It seems a wiley coyote came into the lot near where he was set up and mistook him for the road runner or something. James exclaimed how close the coyote came, hot breath and all practically breathing down his neck (ok, I admit to embellishing the story a little).

At 2:00, my batteries, physically and telescopically, ran out of juice. I'll never quite get used to hitting the sack at 3:30 AM on a work night. At least these days I wake up with an astronomy hang over, not the other kind. They're much easier to recover from.