by Marek Cichanski
Drove to Coe under a nice clear sky, but it was too windy there. There were a couple of other observers setting up when I arrived at 7:30. The sky above was nice and clear, and the well-defined top of the murk was just below us, but there was a classic, cold, steady Coe wind blowing. It felt like it wasn't just a late-afternoon wind, but a nice cold westerly. I sat in my car for a little while, ate the Taco Bell dinner I'd picked up at East Dunne Ave, and then bailed without even setting up.
Had a nice sight of a razor-thin crescent moon as I started down the road from Coe. Listened to part of Timothy Ferris's "The Red Limit" on tape as I was driving home. Got home about 9:30. I set up the platform and scope outside my garage about 10. Mars boiled pretty good until about 11, when the seeing settled down a bit. I observed from about 10:30 until about 12:30. I'd say the seeing varied from 3.5/5 to about 4/5. There were some pretty nice moments.
I was quite surprised to see the lack of a marine layer over Palo Alto, but I wasn't complaining. Looks like some marine layer clouds were starting to form up as I was breaking down.
At the beginning of the session, Sinus Meridiani was going out of view. Mare Erythraeum was fairly well defined, as were Solis Lacus and Tithonium Lacus. Mare Acidalium was visible on the northern limb. Mare Sirenum started to come into view around the eastern limb late in the session. Couldn't quite make out Phoenicis Lacus or Noctis Lacus. Searched in vain for Nix Olympica (or orographic clouds thereupon), but no dice. Also, I couldn't quite make out the Argyre basin. Several times I though I was seeing some whitening of the NNW limb area, as though there was a "north polar hood" of white cloud, but I suspect that it was just an atmospheric dispersion effect. The Wratten #21 filter was useful, although I found that I liked the natural appearance of the disc best.
Glad that I got some Mars observing after getting winded out of Coe. I hope that the folks at the Peak had a good evening.
I was using my Orion XT10, 10" f/5 dob.
It was on a homebuilt equatorial platform - sufficiently beefed up from the original TL systems kit plans that I prefer to just call it "homebuilt".
Eyepieces were 9mm Type 6 Nagler and 4.8mm original type Nagler. I didn't bother using the ParaCorr.
Man, it sounds like the Peak was amazing! Glad to hear that everyone had such a good night. I'm jealous!