Saturday Night 10/25 at Shingletown

by Shneor Sherman

I arrived at about 4 p.m. due to an accident a mile before Anderson on I-5. Bruce Sayre, Bill Chandler, Mel Bartels and Dan Gray were already there, with Bill having arrived shortly before me. There were some high clouds and occasional wind gusts. Dan had his 28" and Bruce's 22" binoculars were also set up, as was Mel's 20". I set up my 22". With Bruce's help, we tried to get the scope.exe program working properly, but it kept getting hung up, so we abandoned it until Mel came by later to debug (he wrote the program). Scope.exe, by the way, is a tracking/goto program for telescopes that runs under MS-DOS, and uses the encoders and motors built-in to my telescope.

In the meantime the winds largely died down, and the skies ranged from mediocre to very good depending on the part of the sky you looked at and the time of the night. In generalhe east and zenith were consistently good, and the south and southwest relatively poor. There were some abrupt temperature drops during the evening.

As one of the main reasons for observing at Shingletown was to compare views in Bruce's binoculars with the views in Dan's 28", I was not too disappointed. I also brought by Denkmeier binoviewer for comparison purposes.

I wish I had more to report. As Dan said, the brain prefers 2-eyed views; viewing with two eyes gets rid of the visual 'noise". But M42 was a revelation. In Bruce's binos, you could see a texture that was lacking in Dan's 28". Yet, I'd say that if you looked for the faintest star, you could perceive it better in the 28". We tried the binoviewer in Dan's scope - he found the view very pleasing, but the power a bit too high. (Dan's mirror suffers from a bit of astigmatism.)

Later on, Mel diagnosed a problem or two with my electromechanical setup and program parameters, and fixed them, but then I ran into inverter problems. But in the meantime,Mel had me run through a tour ov the Veil, under program control, that took me to over a dozen interesting parts ov the Veil. In any case, I had an excellent view of Abell 347 in Pegasus, with at least 9 galaxies visible in the field at 250x. Later on, I also had a fine view of Thor's Helmet (in my 22" first, then in the 28").

We also had fine views of the Veil in the 22" binoculars, and superb views of M110 in both the 28" and the 22" binoculars. It has a dust lane similar to M31, as well as a spiral structure. Later, Dan and Mel viewed the Double Quasar in Ursa Major (and of course, N3079). After Dan and Mel went to bed, I checked my watch and discovered it wasl already 4:30 a.m., so I quickly put a few items away and went to bed.

All in all, a pretty good night, and very interesting to boot. Definitely worth the long drive.