IHOP; Sunday night (report)

by Bill Chandler

Well, I guess I should've read the TAC-SAC Posts before heading out, I would've learned about the last minute weather changes and who was not showing. My mistake. (oops).

Anyway, I did go. I arrived at IHOP2 at 7:20PM (just FYI it's EXACTLY 7.0 miles from Highway 50 to IHOP2 in case anyone's wondering :-)

I did not (initially) see any cars parked, So I assumed I was the first. Then I noticed a dark 'blazer' like vehicle parked backward in the old crumbling building (east side of the clear area. It didn't look like an 'observer' so I parked on the west side of the lot and waited to see if anyone else was going to show (or if these strangers were going to leave). After 30 minutes, neither occurred. :-(

Not wanting to setup my equipment with 'unknown' persons (or intentions) lurking, I drove back to Ice House Rd and Peavine. I parked there and waited to see if anyone else was going to show (assuming someone would, acknowledged by earlier posts).

At 8:30 (after sunset) still no one had come by (and the dark blazer had not left). Discretion being the better part, I proceeded to my 'backup' location 'IHOP3' off Granite Springs Rd. I was pretty certain no one was there and most likely no 'strangers' would 'drop in' aft dark.

After pulling of the main rd (about 200 yards) I found a nice clear a level spot. Proceeded to unpack and watched the fading twilight. Yes, the MOON was high and almost 1/2 full. But the sky was CLEAR and I expected a super night once the moon departed (somewhere around 11:30).

Before moonset (and Mars rising) I wanted to 'split' some doubles. I've taken a liking to this ever since I bought my big bino's. I started with the obvious, Albireo in Cygnus. Then switched to some harder splits in Aquila (57) and Gamma Andromeda (the latter being quite low on the horizon). I paused for awhile, to eat and tweak some equipment (that needed repair). The moon was still up (at 15deg) and I recalled I had tossed my portable PC with ToUcam in my equipment case. I've never used a camera with my OTA's before so I though I'd test it out on the moon (how could I miss) ;-)

Wow, that was cool. It was pretty easy attaching the ToUcam to the focuser and loading up the program. Wham there was the moon! I aligned with the terminator and took a series of frames (about 100) to process later. I then put the PC in pause mode to wait until MARS rose high enough. I wanted to capture a few frames of it too. Unfortunately, buy the time Mars was high enough, my PC battery crapped out :-( Oh well, next time.

Just about then (around 12:30), a number of dark clouds began to creep in, from the east (far on the horizon). I also noticed that my Mak-Newt corrector was beginning to dew up . No heater That's it, night's over. Time to pack it up. :-(

I finished packing around 1AM. By that time, the Clouds were thickening up and the night was lost anyway. :-( Oh well.


(mental note: Get Kendrik Heater for OTA!)