Mt. Lassen report

by Mark Wagner

Yep... the folks there make the trip.

Here's the crew:

A few folks were unable to make it.

Now for an observing report:

Wednesday night I used the 10" f/5.7 CPT and three eyepieces - a 20 Nagler Type II, 12 Nagler Type II, and 7 Nagler. A family from Seattle arrived at the north end of Devastated Area, got out and turned off all their lights. I invited them to look through the telescope. It was a grandfather, maybe a few years older than me, had several grandchildren along. The eldest was a young lady maybe 17 years old who had studied and was tested in astronomy for the National Science Foundation. She knew every object I showed, and I was able to let her explain what she was seeing to her siblings . This was very satisfying. We looked at M5, M13, M57, Alberio, the Double Double, M27, M51, M8 and others. The youngest grandchild, six years old, was getting tired so they thanked me and left. I continued, pointing my scope toward Aquila and opened the Night Sky Observers' Guide. I logged several NGC open clusters and planetary nebulae. The views were rewarding, many of the open clusters having nice hazy background of unresolved dim stars with brighter members in chains. I kept at it until fatigue forced me to take down, and return to camp. Everyone was asleep when I returned.

Thursday night I set up the 18" Obsession and revisited several of the objects I'd looked at the prior night in Aquila. But this was a shorter observing session, as the clouds gave us only intermittent views then socked in fairly early. Still, what I did see was excellent, and it was fun to just be out in such a beautiful dark sky in an amazing geologic location.

Some like Bumpass Hell parking lot, for its additional elevation and wonderful horizons, but I prefer Devastated. Devastated is 2200 feet or more lower, which I find a more comfortable elevation as far as my energy level. At over 8200 feet I feel lethargic. Everything I do is more work. I also like the very short and easy drive back from Devastated - to either Summit Lake Campground or Lost Creek. I also think it is darker at Devastated. There is just something about the negative horizons at Bumpass that makes me feel as if the Redding and Chico light domes (small as they may be), along with the small towns visible in the northern Central Valley always catch my eye. At Devastated, the horizons are good but not negative, and there are no notable light domes (except when higher clouds reflect them). Devastated is also the home site of the annual star parties at Lassen.

Friday evening I stayed in camp, watching the clouds to see if there would be a break. Others went to Devastated, but did little or no observing and returned early.

Saturday was to be the public star party, which did not happen due to poor weather. The public event is the most gratifying part of the trip. It is fun to be with friends, and to observe, but I like to see how much the public (and park staff) enjoy the 2 hours they have looking at the universe through our equipment.

We'll return next year - and chances are we'll have great weather and lots of viewed objects to report on.