by Jamie Dillon

Heading out Saturday afternoon with the eventual destination of IHOP, first thing on the radio was Tom Waits singing "Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night." Those of you who read TAC will recognize the clear reference to Markarian's Chain as the Heart of Saturday Night in Downtown Virgo. Auspicious start.

Having been permitted to take part in tAC-SAC, figured it was vital to get to your territory. And what a place! Horizons at sunset showed below the bottom loop of Scorpius to the South, and the cap of Perseus peeking up to the North. The sky measured 6.4 in Pegasus at 2300, seeing was good to excellent, 4/5 to 5/5, till as late as 0100.

And the distractions! I had my chart opened to the end of Draco west of Thuban, found my field for the first galaxy, 4236, in the finder, nothing in the 22 Panoptic, and here's Ster going "Blue Snowball in the 30." What's a guy to do? Stop, wander over, clamber up the ladder for the most extravagant view of 7662 I hope to ever see. Layers of shells all intertwined, gorgeous color.

Jane's niece and her intended asked all kinds of interesting smart questions. The background banter was enough different from our local insults, on the Peak and Coe and Pacheco, to merit ethnographic attention. The Dude was studying the set of galaxies off Alpheratz, alpha And. It was one thing after another.

Finally after a solid 45 minutes caught up with 4236 in the 10mm. Long and slim, low SB, a moderate condensation at the core. Looked best in the 16mm, where it took up half the field in length. No kidding a low surface brightness, 15.o. Vmag turns out to be 9.6, and it's measured as 22' by 6'. Nearby at 7 mly and nearly edge-on, dim by virtue of being spread out. This was all with Felix, a Celestron 11" f/4.5 Dobs with optics made by Discovery Telescopes. Was using a 22 Pan, 16mm UO Koenig, 10mm and 6mm Radians.

Of side interest on 4236 is that it's a Caldwell object, C3. After the months-long media blitz in S&T on O'Meara's Caldwell book, this made for a nice placemarker. This galaxy, while yes very interesting, was tough and not for a just-post-Messier list. Just the sort of thing Alister Ling got on about in his well-regarded rant, http://members.aol.com/anonglxy/lingmoor.htm . I fornicate in the milk of the Caldwells.

Got just a couple of other new galaxies, with the other main excitement of the night, except for the excellent company, being long looks at Uranus and Neptune. Must say it was a thrill to beat out Her Worship's go-to in finding Neptune, all the while humming 'John Henry'.

Great spot, superb gang, a sincere privilege to visit. Virtuoso hospitality. Total bonding experience. Thanks heaps, y'all.

Friend Jamie