by Greg Wright
It was one of the darkest nights that I can remember there, with a clear Milky Way arching overhead and the Andromeda galaxy a large patch to the naked eye. Waiting for the C11 to cool down, I put the 4" refractor on the G11 and went looking for comet P2 Encke on Jason's suggestion - an obvious fan of light just underneath the 'coat hanger' cluster, and worth it for my first telescopic view of a comet. Not as spectacular as Starry Night had led me to expect :)
I tried the C11 only very briefly. The beach ball sized stars and dizziness-inducing ripples got the better of me within minutes; quite the worst seeing I've ever experienced. So I spent another couple of hours with the refractor for low-power views of clusters in Perseus and Auriga - M37, in particular, was beautiful, large and granular against the dark sky, and I tried to take advantage of the darkness with a few B&W photos.
Oh, and it was cold. One advantage of unguided film photography: you can open the shutter and then go and sit in the car to warm up.
When we left just before 10pm (I know, but I said it was cold) I am sure the San Jose light dome was much larger than earlier. Maybe a connection with Rob's theory for bad transparency at Coe; we had no problems looking to the E.