Fremont Peak last night?

by Peter McKone

From: Mark Wagner (mgwagner@No-Spam) Date: Sun Aug 24 2003 - 16:23:03 MST

I'll ask directly this time...

How was traffic and the crowd(s) at the Peak last night?

Thanks, Mark

Hi Mark, As you predicted, it was a zoo at the Peak on Saturday night. I thought the parade of campers toward the observatory would never end. Someone estimated the number to be 300. Paul Mortfield (reportedly) gave his presentation four times. I set up my 15 inch Discovery Dob behind the maintenance building, thinking that I could wait in line for the 30 inch and use my own scope at the same time! I was looking forward to seeing Mars through the 30 inch telescope but it never happened. The long wait, and the thought of my own equipment being expropriated by a band of roving campers kept me away.

It would have been a great night for observing DSOs. The Double Double was splitting cleanly at 8:30. The breeze, which was annoying during the barbeque, dissipated almost completely after sunset. My hat and gloves went on at 8 pm and came off again at 9. There was never any hint of dew.

People asking "Can we look through your telescope" made serious observing just about impossible until 1 am. Telling them that they would get better views of Mars through a (someone else's) refractor wasn't entirely successful. I tried to show some objects that people hadn't seen in the 30 inch. The globular cluster NGC 6712 provided a nice contrast to its famous neighbor M11. The Crescent Nebula in the heart of Cygnus is a pretty object that doesn't get as much press as its nearby cousin, the Veil. It doesn't require super-dark skies, but is a little tricky to find due to the richness of the field. Since I was in the neighborhood, I swung over to the planetary nebula NGC 7027. Not too impressive. So, over to a really big planetary, the Helix. With an Ultrablock and a low-power eyepiece, it looked like the full moon. During a break in the crowd, Palomar Globular 8, about 2.5 degrees ESE of M25 (RA: 18 41 30 Dec: -19 49 36) was a good target. It is somewhat dim, but quite large. I failed to find Palomar globular 12 (2.5 degrees NE of M30). I'll try again next time. My thermometer was still reporting 66 degrees when I drove out at 2:30.