Good night at Lick

by Rich Neuschaefer

Sept. 12th, '03

The seeing was pretty good at Lick tonight. They had the 40" reflector and the 36" refractor pointed at Mars. Most of our amateur scopes behind the observatory were also pointed at Mars. Syrtis Major came nicely into view once Mars got relatively high in the sky.

I also looked at the Moon near the end of the observing session, around 1 am. It was showing very nice detail near the terminator.

There were about 160 visitors to Lick last nignt not including the volunteers. It was a very nice night. The both the 40 and 36 were giving better views than I'd seen through them in the past. Most of the night the 36" had a red filter in front the eyepiece. Later, they put on a binoviewer and no filter. The view with the binoviewer was very nice. It was still easier to see low contrast features with the AP180EDT (180mm f/9) but it was an impressive view through the great 36".

We were seening lots of subtle shadings on Mars along with the large obvious features. For example there were several darker areas within Hellas.

By about 1:30 or 2am the seeing at Lick was not quite as good as earlier in the evening but the views of the moon along the terminator were highly detailed. A few people were still up and we were taking turns with the telescope's controler "flying" low over the lunar surface looking for a place to touch down.

One of the volunteers at Lick has a very 12" Meade SCT. Shortly before I left we were looking through his telescope at M42. This must have been around 2:30 am or 3 am. The fifth star in the Trapezium was a very nice pin point. The sixth star was there too but I had a little difficulty holding steady on the steps he was using to get up to his eyepiece. Lots of detail in the nebula.