Sat 9/13 Mars, Moon and a thingy

by Stacy Jo McDermott

Saturday night, Sept 13, 2003 was a good night to be at Montebello Space Preserve above Palo Alto. Seeing and transparency were good, temperature was good, company was good, & just being there was good.

Lance and Mary Boehm, gracious newcomers to TAC, had emailed me about Montebello. We decided to cruise up there as Lance just joined TAC, just got his permit and has never been up there. It was a good plan.

We arrived around 9PM and started setting had been a while since I had set up in the dark! But it was good to review those skills.

Basically my plan for the evening was to look at Mars and the Moon. Mars rocked. My most comfortable views were through my 15mm Parks eyepiece coupled with a 2x barlow, thus giving me 137 power. I could easily detect the shrinking polar ice cap as well as Syrtis Major. Early in my observing session, SM looked like a band across the planet. About a couple hours later, the thong was in full view. I did sketches of both.

The moon was wonderful to view with the waning terminator creating detail in the craters. My moon cruise was just to look at different craters as I was not able to go through my list earlier to see what I needed for the AL Lunar Observing certificate - sometimes you just got to look around and enjoy the view.

At 9.51PM I happen to notice a dark splotch transiting la bella luna. IIRC and am flipping the view I had in my eyepiece correctly, this "thing" went from the western'ish edge diagonally down to the south pole of the moon. Did anyone else see this "thingy" transit?????? I initially thought it was the ISS, but was told by a voice in the dark, that it was not, due to the orbit of the ISS that night not being in the area that I was looking at. It resembled a satellite, however, no one else at MB saw it as I think I was the only telescope pointing to the moon.

Other than my "UFO thingy" and sketching Mars, I just hung out, mooched views, talked with just about everyone and had a grand time. The weather was PERFECT! Imagine me not putting my jacket on until around was that warm.

In attendance was James, Kasey, Lance & Mary, myself, Matt, and Peter that I can remember...there were about 4 other people that (my bad and my apologies) I did not get names from. A etiquette faux pas for sure!!

Around 2 AM we packed up and headed back up the peninsula...getting home around 3.15AM. Great night, great folks, great views and just a great time.