La Honda Elementary School - 9/20/2003

by Peter McKone

With CalStar coming up in a few days, I didn't want a long drive on Saturday night. Considered Montebello, but the idea of visiting a new site, a little farther away from urban lighting was intriguing, and so accepted James Adams' invitation to set up at the La Honda Elementary School. Arrived at 7:10, just after sunset. Bob Baldwin arrived five minutes later, just in time to see the first photons from ... the parking lot lights! James Adams arrived at 7:30 and showed us that we could block out most of the light by setting up behind the school buildings. Tom ? and his wife (was it Cindy? How embarrassing!) arrived from Montara with a beautiful homemade 20 inch Dob with a Galaxy mirror. I'm looking forward to seeing them and their telescope again later this week at CalStar. A few parents and maybe a half dozen students made up the rest of the group.

The weather was warm and dry all night. Horizons at the School are good in all directions, with some hills blocking out objects that are too low to look at anyway. The sky would have been darker than Montebello, but suffered a little from nearby lighting, and from lower altitude. The western horizon was very dark, and the view to the north was better than from Montebello. For comparison, I looked at the OC NGC 7142 that has been discussed recently, and saw lots of background stars that I didn't see Wednesday night at Montebello.

I've started working through the Orion / Steve Gottlieb DeepMap 600 list. It's a nice excuse to revisit the Messier Objects, as well as quite a few new ones. One new (to me) object was the galaxy NGC 7184, a little more than 6 degrees to the west of the Helix Nebula. Together with a line of 4 mag 13 stars, it resembles a hockey stick, (not to be confused with "The Hockey Stick", NGC 4656). A couple other objects that deserve mention are the globular NGC 6229, 7 degrees NW of M92 in the arms of Hercules, and (observed from Montebello) the big bright globular NGC 6541, 5.5 degrees east of the star Theta Scorpii.

Also deserving mention is the nice view of the relatively new "proto-planetary nebula" NGC 7027 in Tom's telescope. Dreyer called it "stellar", but it seems to be growing. We saw considerable diameter and distinct elongation. The Hubble photo shows a hint of two lobes.