by Bob Jardine
We had a nice group of people...10 or 11 cars. It was cool, but not too cold -- got down to around 40, I think. Some moisture, but not too bad...slightly damp papers, but it never became an issue for optics.
Early on, several of us looked at 2p Encke. Large, but pretty unimpressive. Later, David tracked down another comet, which was nicer -- still no tail, but some shape and a brighter core. This was LINEAR C 2002/T7, I think. Joe Bob says: "check it out"!
Mid-way through the evening, a few clouds rolled in. Rashad sacrificed himself -- packed up and left. The sacrifice worked. Thanks, Rashad. The clouds moved on through, and we had a couple of hours of clear skies after that.
Mars was looking good. Even though it is getting smaller, it is now up pretty high. The SPC is sill there, although very small. The shape is now distinctly non-circular, waning phase. Significant detail on the surface was easy to see (a big banana-like band, along with some smaller features).
The only problem was the wind. It started out pretty calm, but the wind built up as the evening wore on. By the time Orion, Gemini, and Saturn came up, the wind was pretty nasty -- frequent strong gusts. It finally convinced the rest of us to pack up. I finally locked the gate at 10:55. It's probably dead calm up there now, with the best seeing ever, and nobody to observe.
Overall, a pretty nice night, even if it was cut short by the wind.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!