Mt. Lassen to Coyote

A tale of observing obsession of a pyro queen

by Stacy Jo McDermott

Observing Log for 7/31 – 8/2, 2003

My objective for this particular trip, taking place from Wednesday, July 30th through Sunday, August 03, 2003, was to finish up on those Messier objects viewed through binoculars to meet the criteria of the Astronomical League’s Binocular Messier Certificate. I used 7x50 Orion binoculars for all Messier objects on the list.

(I had also brought with me my 10” Dobsonian, dubbed “R2”designed and built by Robert Perry. Many thanks to Mr. Jim Bartolini for encouraging me on that name – we were both parked in the “D2” campsite space. However, upon arriving at Mt. Lassen, I found that I had forgotten my Rigel finder. A second challenge was the fact that when Jim Bartolini and I tried to collimate the primary mirror when I se! t up on Thursday, the collimating screws on the back panel were not moving the primary at all. I decided to not use the 10” for the remainder of the trip as I probably would not really be able to see anything clearly. As it turns out dear reader, Mother Nature had the same idea in mind).

7/30/03 – 8/1/03 Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Devastated Interpretive Area

7/30/03 - Wednesday

No observing due to altitude headache, stuffed up sinuses and long day of driving.

7/31/03 - Thursday

SeeingFair to good to non-existent
TransparencyGood to poor due to thunderheads
Instrument used7x50 Orion Binoculars
Time22:15 to about 23:00 PDT
Objects viewedM8, M17, M23, M27, M29, and M92

8/1/03 – Friday

Overcast with a teasing smattering of sucker holes. Stayed at camp and made a lovely camp fire with wood gathering assistance from Peter Natcher. My campfire building skills are still sharp and was able to get the fire going on the first try. My technique for a proper fire is all in the beginning of building a perfect kindling bundle. Dry kindling was a bit of a challenge to find around the campsite due to some intermittent rain, but I was able to find what I needed. Soon, there was a hardy gathering of people sitting around the campfire trading jokes and stories that kept all entertained.&n! bsp; A light rain began around midnight but stopped (or so we thought).

8/2/03 – Saturday

Rain began at about 03.30 and did not let up. Everyone, but Steve Sargent (who was hiking/backpacking with his wife Jean) bailed out by noon and headed back to the Bay Area. I made a rain poncho out of a garbage bag with cutting assistance from Rich Neuschaffer. A new look for the pages of Vogue. However, I still managed to get soaked.

8/2/03 – Saturday, continued:

Due to major traffic delays on I-80 into San Francisco, I diverted myself to San Jose when I learned that the Coyote view area had clear sky predictions for that evening. Since I was not working the next day, I cut over to I-680 and made my way down to fellow TACo’s, Kevin Roberts, place and from there we proceeded to Coyote. It was indeed much cleare! r than Mt. Lassen had been and I was certain I would be able to bag my remaining Messiers (with the exception of M48, which is in Hydra) that night. I was not disappointed.

LocationCoyote County Park, CA
SeeingFair to good
TransparencyGood (though poor at end of night)
Instrument used7x50 Orion Binoculars
Time22:15 to about 23:30 PDT
Objects viewedM2, M3, M5, M15, M52, and M55

Even though we had to contend with rain, clouds and mosquitos (and those little buggers saw me coming), it was a thoroughly enjoyable 5 days and I was able to meet my objective of bagging most of the remaining Messiers needed for the binocular certificate. Would I do it again under the same circumstances? With the enjoyable company that made it to Mt. Lassen, you can bet your AP refractor that I wo! uld.