Relaxing night out near Palomar Mtn - 2003/10/18

by Jeff Gortatowsky

Explore Thy Anza...

Musing from the night of 10/18/2003 while observing at the OCA's Anza site 22km NE of Palomar...

Holy-Shim-Moely things got over grown! Not good! That's what I get for being lazy and not have been there since February. I took one bag of crushed up very dry weeds home with me, but there are at least 10 bags worth still there. Not good. Fire hazard. And the Cactus needs trimming back as it's getting too wide. It snagged me twice walking by the truck. Ow! And the tarp that covered the desk! Tattered toast! UV killed it. I packed it out with the bag-o-weeds. Wow. Now I know how lucky I was two years ago when one of my neighbors cut back the weeds in April for me. :(

Good night. Real comfy. The kind of night that makes OCA membership all worth it. :) I was in shorts and a T-shirt all night long. Joe next door at one point said we had reached the chilly temperature of 65F (18C-19C). Bloody balmy if you ask me. Fair to middling skies. Seeing was order of 7 out of 10 or so degrading as the night wore on to 5'ish.

I had my 45cm dob setup on a Johnsonian Type V platform. For $500 it works great with my 18cm and 28cm dobs but it was just overwhelmed by the 45cm. So I took it off the platform before there was an accident I'd regret.

Setting up next to me were Clary and Joe sporting their 38cm dob and a friend of theirs Tom, with a robo 20cm SCT. I collimated Tom's SCT and he was truely greateful as he called it "A new scope."! Down in the 'football field' was a billion fairly well behaved boy scouts. They got to look through Clary and Joe's 38cm dob in about three waves of mayhem. I grunted, spat, raise the hair in my tail, and generally acted unwelcoming. This worked and they gave me a wide berth. Excellent. :)

Mars was fairly crisp and showed off lots-o-detail early around 8pm or 9pm'ish. A wide 'V' or 'wishbone' or 'chevron' like area was visible with subtle detail along the southern edge as well as in the central area. Actually it looked as good as I have ever seen. That ain't saying much as I admit Mars holds little appeal for me and I expect the 45cm to crush it. I have not observed it very much after the last dust storm fiasco. Small little world. Now Jupiter! There's a planet! LOL!

Warm wind 'eddys' kept me comfy all night. I spent my time happily making 24 observations of 8 more H400 objects. I have surpassed the halfway point now in my quest for a H400 pin. A few detours to the objects mentioned below, as well as few others including Gamma Andromeda, a few old favorite open clusters in Cassiopeia, and I was done.

I tried twice to track down 2P Encke with zero luck. Quite frustrating as the 45cm should make childs play of a 12th mag comet. But I was goose-egged. Shutout. Sent packing.

As Orion rose and got about 30+ degrees above the horizon (just before the "Junior Great Light Polluter" rose over the tree line) one could see 5 stars in the trapezium. Normal for Anza is 6 stars without even breaking a sweat. Heck my 18cm dob regularly shows 6. We enjoy seeing far better than most of the masses across the nation if this test is any judge. Spoil't we are.

Using Brian Skiff's list of doubles for estimating seeing I was able to split a 3 arc-sec double in Taurus 80% of the time with lot of dark space. For 20% of the time it was one star. This at 221x (9mm Nagler). A 2.5 arc-sec in Orion (actually in NGC 2169) was split about 50% of time. So I'd call it at best 2.5 arc-sec seeing. LM in Cetus where I tracking down my H400 quarry was about 6.1.

As I was packing up, bathed in the glow of the JGLP rising over the tree line, I wondered how many other OCA members had come before me and gotten their H400 out here? None? A few? Tens? More? Certainly they'd be appalled at the Temecula light dome and Escondido's as well. Indeed with no marine layer worth speaking of last night, I kept to the meridian and points eastward (Cetus, Pegasus, Andromeda, Sculptor, etc). That's where it's dark.