Coyote Lake Park Observing, Wednesday Night, Aug. 6-7, 2003

by Peter Natscher

SiteCoyote Lake Park, CA
Telescope10" AP Maksutov-Cassegrain
Conditions60F, dry, Light wind at sunset diminishing to breeze by midnight. Bright Moon until midnight.
Observing Period9:30 pm - 1:30 am

After intending to observe up at Fremont Peak, I ended up driving on to Coyote Park Lake to ensure dryer air with less of a fog threat. I've been skunked the last three times out in the last 4 weeks and wanted this observing night to be good. I got concerned about the high marine layer and clouds that were building on the Peak's western side at 6 pm as I was on my way to the Peak on Rts. 156 and 101, and so I made the quick decision to continue on to observe at Coyote Lake Park. I observed with Bob Jardine and Ken.

My night at Coyote was very good using my AP 10" Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope to continue with my H400 observing and sketching project. I was able to sketch 12 Herschels and am now only 12 from completion. I usually spend 15-20 minutes observing and sketching each H400 object for my log and sketch book. The transparency and dryness at Coyote Lake Park allowed the bright waxing gibbous moon to dominate the sky with light, and so I concentrated on open clusters that lie along the galactic plane in Cygnus, Cepheus, and Lacerta. After the moon had set after midnight, the sky had darkened considerably and so I then observed a few H400 galaxies in Pegasus overhead.

My last hour was devoted to observing Mars which was near the meridian after midnight. The shrinking S. polar cap with its bordering dark area, Syrtis Major, Iapygia, Syrtis Minor, Mare Tyrrhenum, Mare Cimmerium, Hellas were all very visible while Mars was positioned at CM 280. The seeing was a bit soft and turbulent causing Mars to appear ragged at it edge. Non-the-less, I really enjoy observing Mars with the Bino at 400x. Using two eyes with planetary observing always improves the view regardless of seeing.

It was a real pleasure to have had 4 hours of great observing after with friends after being clouded, fogged, and rained out in my past 4 attempts.