by Jane Smith
Brian, Alvin, Ed, and I all took a chance and headed up. I arrived about 6pm and started to setup. Phil Mattingly (?) and Bud Bafia were working on the observatories and thought I was being overly optimistic. Brian pulled about 6:45pm and Alvin and Ed rolled in about 15 minutes later. Things looked horrible until just about dark when it started to clear in the west. By 9pm it was clear at zenith and stayed that way most of the night. Brian got the central star in M57 in my scope while I was setting up the computer. Amazing.
The south and the west were pretty dim, but the north and zenith were surprizingly clear. The Veil with an OIII looked like the Alaskan Pipeline. It was huge. I hunted down a bunch of open clusters in Cassiopeia and spent some time on the incredibly pretty triple, Iota Cassiopeia. Checked out M52 since I was in the area. Nice open cluster. I also stumbled onto a pair of small open clusters which I was able to get in one EP, but haven't figured out which ones they were yet.
The new 9x50 finder is a winner, but I need to find another place to mount it. It's too close to the EP right now. I'll more than likely have to put in another panel and mount it off to the side. It's nice to have a finder again. I didn't realize how much I missed having one.
We called it a night around 11pm as Alvin and Brian needed to get home and Ed had a long drive. All in all it was a great night, much better than I expected.