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Guide Dogs Rock!

by Mark Wagner

On Saturday night I was having mishap after mishap. Small stuff at first - realizing I had way too many filters and they would keep ending up in the wrong container - frustrating. Next I lost my ability to mentally spin the computer field to match the eyepiece (resulting in an extended hunt on my part for one of the Abell planetaries). Spilling Baileys Irish Creme on my observing table (and attempting surreptitiously to lick it off! ;-). And then my red flashlight falling and ending up way under my truck. I couldn't tell if I was just cursed, or fighting sleep dep!

Then the serious stuff happened. My laptop screen decided to stop working (it is working fine here, back at home). When the laptop went out, I switched to paper charts. Immediately my reading glasses (cheaters) fell, hit the ground, and scratched so badly I couldn't see out of the right lens. In frustration, I snapped them in half and chucked them into my truck. This left only two options... give up - quit for the night (no way!) or... here's what we did...

Steve would pick the target - we were on the galaxy clusters by now - he'd describe where in the sky it was, by star hopping, then we'd locate the brightest member in each of our scopes. Steve used a photographic chart and we'd hop from one object to another, talking to each other about direction, distance, visibility, shapes, orientation, etc. It was a great way to observe. And, while doing it, I realized that over time I began picking up more ability to detect dimmer and dimmer objects, some which were not on Steve's charts. By not looking at a computer screen, and by not using a red flashlight to look at a chart, by only looking through the eyepiece without exposing my eye to any unnecessary light, my dark adaptation and night vision took a very noticeable step "deeper". I was very impressed with the results. Steve made an excellent guide dog, and I enjoyed the benefits! Thanks Steve!

In fact, it worked so well, I'll try to get Navarrete to be "guide dog" next month at CalStar... Mush!

Observing Reports Observing Sites GSSP 2010, July 10 - 14
Frosty Acres Ranch
Adin, CA

OMG! Its full of stars.
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