Busy night at the Mars Bar -- Coe observing 31Aug03

by William G. Schultz

Dan Wright made a plea for participants at Coe for Sunday. The crowd responded, as many came and pulled up a seat at the Mars Bar -- shorts and tee-shirt weather, 75 - 77 degrees, 25 - 30% RH, no breeze whatsoever. Looked to be about 12 scopes and maybe 16 cars in the lot -- parked at all the extremities. Scopes ranged in all shapes and sizes: a brand spanking new AP MakCas here; a 22 inch Dob there; with coffee grinders everywhere. Lots of kids and parents were around sneaking in views from the available glass.

I think I confounded a few of the star party goers. My observing for the evening was non-planetary. I managed to continue working Arp peculiar galaxies (under mag 15) from RA hour 22, 23 and 00. Explaining the list, the objects, and their interaction got me a few "Oh my God!" exclamations from a few. I stayed away from Mars as it takes me too much time to recover from retinal burns. Mars is a bright little critter!

The reward of the evening was my best view ever of Arp 319 = Stephan's Quintet (NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, NGC 7319 & NGC 7320). All components were seen and sketched. However, I'm not sure the improvement was due to wonderful conditions. LM was a bit low (perhaps a 58 at the zenith). Smoke and haze The sky was not very transparent. I think my growing level of experience helped.

Another unexpected success was observing two of the three components in Arp 314. I am not accustomed to reporting targets in the MCG catalog. I was able to record MCG-01-58-009 & MCG-01-58-010. The interaction was not apparent in the FOV at 156X. All I could see was the shapes and positions of the two galaxies.

One disappointment: Arp 50 (IC 1520, mag 14 in Cetus) eluded me, though I was able to log fainter targets routinely. The murk prevented logging faint objects.

I stayed till 4:30. The Great Obliterator prevented me from starting until after 10:00 pm. The list is at times daunting for an 11" SCT, but I was able to discern and sketch 14 Arp objects, may of which were compound objects in busy fields of view, some with objects as faint as mag 15 (using averted imagination).

I doubt we will have night as warm as this for quite a while, The last time I remember one so warm all night was during a Labor Day weekend at Fremont Peak, last century, in 1999. Two months until Halloween, four months until New Years. Where does time go?