Shirtsleeves Night at MB (Tues 2003 Oct 28)

by Bob Jardine

The CSCs were looking pretty good for MB yesterday afternoon while I was at work, so I decided to head up there last night and skip the usual Wednesday event, when things looked set to degrade for the week.

As I locked up the gate and left at 1:00 AM, I was still in my shirtsleeves, and I thought to myself: not once did I even consider adding another layer or even a hat. It was that nice. But then I had another thought: one of sorrow on behalf of our Southern California friends, because it is the same kind of warm fall weather (taken to a Santa Ana extreme) that causes so much fire danger. Best wishes to all SoCal TACOs and their families and friends.

I spent the evening with three first-time MB-ers. First there was John, with a 10" Meade (an XL200, by the sound of it ;-). An experienced observer, for sure, but maybe new to the Bay Area...he had posted on TAC yesterday about a possible MB evening. John was also providing some nice classical music during the evening...thanks!

A little later another pair walked in: Doug and Michelle, if I remember their names correctly. Nice folks. Asked politely if they could drive in, seemed to know the red light protocol. I explained a couple of rules (must agree to leave when the last permit holder (me) leaves, no smoking, etc.). They set up a 10" Orion on a big EQ mount and got down to business, Doug with the 'scope and Michelle doing Messiers with binocs.

The four of us had a great time. The  transparency was only fair, and the seeing started out soft, but it improved through the night. At the end, I wrapped up by splitting Gamma Ceti, a challenge posed by Peter McKone the previous night; I couldn’t split it Monday night, as the seeing really sucked, but it was not too hard on Tuesday with TOBY at around 300X. Nice double -- on the  Deepmap list -- pretty close and wide magnitude difference to boot. And easy to find because, you guessed it: nekked eye.

We didn't see any Aurora, but we really weren’t on the lookout towards the North, because of the big bad light domes in that direction.

John and I did see one very bright meteor just as we were packing up -- heading about WSW from the area of Cetus. And we both thought the same thought: Hermes? No, not the asteroid itself, of course. But we had both read that there may be some meteoric debris from Hermes as it makes its close approach to Earth -- it is going to shoot by here in the next few days at something like 0.007 AU away. Of course, since it isn't quite "here" yet, it can't be from this pass, but perhaps some debris left in its orbit from a past revolution. This meteor certainly looked like it could have been traced back to the approximate area of the sky where Hermes is.

Interesting world we live in! Huge solar flares, near-Earth asteroids and their debris, deranged arsonists on the loose, and nice new folks out observing in all kinds of weather.