by Mark Wagner

There are no astronomical objects described in this report. But what a night!

Sometimes it is best to just trust instinct. Last night is a perfect example.

Despite a first quarter moon that would not set until after midnight, I let instinct guide me and drove to Henry Coe State Park. The clear sky clock for Coe unbelievably suggested a clearing between sundown and dawn... that would be near perfect. And it was. With winter's approach I did not want to lose such rare opportunity. When you get them, grab them. I was lucky... I should trust instincts more.

It was relaxed. As the sky darkened I enjoyed a slow dinner augmented by some Shirraz, then opened The Night Sky Observers Guide to Perseus. There was no rush. Broken clouds overhead slowly thinned and passed. I was thoroughly enjoying a view, sounds, aromas, and a sky that combined to make this cool fall evening spectacular... if I could save it to relive it, I would do so many times. But at least I keep it in my head.

It is easy to become compulsive, pushing, rushing, checking off a list too quickly without savoring it. I no longer rush things. What I logged was inconsequential, I've stopped counting. Occasionally we have a renewal of spirit, our desire rekindles, even ignites, and the experience take on greater significance. I consider myself fortunate, for me this was such a rare night.

How rare? I was surprised by dawn. Astonished. It seems forever since I had a night like that.

The clear sky clock had been right, the window began closing... clouding over from the north shortly after sunrise, winter was returning. I looked again at the incredible view, at the light haze in the valleys, golds and reds of the trees... beauty in my eyes, then stepped into my truck and headed home. Nearing the freeway I found myself looking in the rear view mirror, reflecting, back to the night, and smiled.

I could not ask for more. Coe was near perfect. I hope you all can have a night like mine. I followed my instinct, I'm glad I did.