by George Feliz
As was mentioned, the light cloud cover did not clear for quite a while, and we mostly looked at double stars in the sucker holes, and sometimes through a thin veil of cirrus. The seeing was quite steady early. Alpha Piscium is a 1.8" double of magnitudes 4.2 and 5.1. It was easily split with my 85mm, f/7 refractor at 150x, and was even cleaner at 200x.
As the night progressed, the seeing regressed to 120-150x. Theta Aurigae is an unequal double of mags 2.6 and 7.1 with a separation of 3.6". It split cleanly at 120x.
A tougher target during this period was Gamma Ceti at 2.8" and unequal mags of 3.5 and 7.3. The diffraction ring of my little scope was interfering with the dim secondary. It took magnification of 200x and patience for moments of clear seeing to separate the pair.
Marek got us off a tangent when the sky cleared by showing wide field views in his 150mm, f/10 Mak (not the sort of scope associated with wide views). One thing led to another, and before I knew it we had switched from double stars to double DSO's. Casey descended upon my poor little rig, which was nicely balanced for my 6-7oz eyepieces, and brutally installed a 1lb, 27mm Panoptic The 27Pan "only" gave a straw sized 2.9 degree field of view, so he came back with a more muscular 1.5lb 35mm Panoptic for a 3.7 degree field of view. We all enjoyed views of the full belt of Orion, M31/32/110 with lotsa room to spare, a sharp view of the Double Cluster, and both M36 and M38.
Another show-stealer was Casey's view of Saturn through his C11. The seeing had steadied again, and there were hints of the Crepe Ring and numerous bands on the globe. And once again, Aperture won. :-)
The auditory highlight of the night was an impromptu session by the Montebello Volunteer Coyote Chorus. What began as a simple call-and-reponse eventually pulled in 4-5 contributors as the wonderful sound echoed off the canyons, and sent shivers down my spine. It rose to a primal, life-affirming crescendo, and then died off quickly as it had begun, leaving a void in the night.
Had it not been for the optimism, enthusiasm and good company of my observing companions, I would have packed up long before and missed the chance for several beautiful sights, and that uplifting Song.
Thanks Casey, Marek and the MBVCC.