Doubting TACOs

by Bob Jardine

Looking out the window yesterday, as many TACOs noted, did not inspire confidence that skies would be clear. But both the NWS and CSCs agreed: FP would be clear from late afternoon until around midnight. Furthermore, CSCs predicted good seeing -- a solid blue bar. So about 6 cars, 6 'scopes, and 6 people risked it.

Well, it wasn't perfect. Lots of dew; ah, the sounds of the season: hair dryers and hand-squeezed bulb blowers. But otherwise, very nice. Cold but nothing that normal winter observing layers didn't handle. The seeing was perhaps not the best I've ever seen, but maybe in the top 10.

I pushed the power up to over 750 on Saturn at one point...that was a bit beyond the limit, but fact that I was tempted to try it may give you an idea about how good the seeing was. I had rock solid views at over 500X for extended periods of time. Gobs of detail everywhere.

I checked out Amphritite again, then comet C2002/T7. It was small but nicely shaped. And very easy to find, right between Alpha Tri and M33. Check this one out if skies clear again.

The rest of the night I spent going back and forth between the fabulous views of Saturn and working on multiple stars (triples, quads, etc.), using a list from the December S&T; I had done most of these before, but it was a fun project anyway. Near the end, Jamie suggested that I give up trying to split AB Sigma Orionis. I was wondering why I was having so much trouble with it. Turns out I had misread the list and was trying to make 5 out of 4. After that, I felt a little bit stupider, but at least happy that neither my 'scope nor my eyesight was completely broken.

We lost the sky totally at around midnight, just as predicted. But it was enough.

Joe Bob sez: happy holidays, everyone!