Lake Sonoma 2/16/07

by Bill Cone

I met Steve Gottlieb yesterday evening for an attempt to observe on the predicted "clearer" night. While we didn't have the wind that Coe had, we did have an intermittent breeze, and plenty of clouds and haze that made observing seem rather futile at times. Zodiacal light was prominent after sunset, reaching up to the Pleiades, but the drifting layers of muck turned the Eastern sky into a large billboard for Santa Rosa's light dome. At one point Orion was almost invisible.

2 other observers were there, whom I'd met before at Shingletown and Diablo, Pol (sp) and Robert. The gnome was nowhere to be seen.

I logged a few objects in Perseus and Cassiopeia, spent some time confusing Steve by finding M50, and thinking it was one of the clusters around IC 2177. We were finally so shut out, we just studied Saturn, which did look good. The disc of the planet showed a dark division between the yellowish equatorial band and the grey upper (southern) reaches. We discussed for awhile whether the darkening at the pole was shadowing, but in moments of good seeing it looked like it was an oval coloration centered on the pole, not a shadow gradient. 6 moons, in all were visible, 3 of them in a tight line off the W. edge of the rings. Steve pointed out the very faint 3rd moon of that group, Enceladus, which was the closest one to the rings. What appeared to be a moon to the South, turns out to be a star, according to my software.

I could hear Pol and Robert splitting doubles and chasing galaxies in sucker holes. At that point, I was looking at open clusters in Perseus, as that was one of the few clear spots. We chatted back and forth about various topics, and thought of calling someone at Coe to compare the suckage factor. Cell reception was good, but I couldn't find Mark's #.

Packed up and rolling around 12:30.


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Adin, CA

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