Houge Park

by Mark Wagner

We had a nice time at Houge Park last night. I had not been there in many months, and found it refreshing to share views and talk astronomy with friends and definitely with the public.

I brought my 10" f/5.7 CPT. I was set up next to a 6" Astro-Physics, an 8" SCT, 10" Orion Dob, 22x100 binoculars, a nice short refractor on an alt-az mount, and various other telescopes that I didn't visit line up further south on the sidewalk. I actually moved my scope off the sidewalk and onto the grass, as the concrete easily transmitted footsteps of people walking by into the OTA, and the grass was very good at damping out the problem. The result were superb view of features such as the Traesneker Rilles, fine and sinuous in very sharp detail, at both 120 and 206X. First timer's views proved to be transfixing - disbelief in many cases that there were so many holes on the moon, and how easy it was to see very fine detail!

Saturn and Jupiter were less pleasing, with softer seeing lower to the horizons. Even so, the public enjoyed just being able to view them.

Deep sky targets and double stars were fun. I was showing the classic Alberio, and the nice gold pair Alpha Herculis. The Double Double (Epsilon Lyrae) was splitting very nicely - some scintillation at over 200X, but still a very clean split. Deep sky targets included M13 and M92, both showing fine pinpoint stars and dense cores - quite good views for in town on a moon night. The Ring Nebula was clearly evident. M80 was a fuzzball (poor seeing down low), but I had fun showing off the Blinking Planetary, describing what caused the "puff" of haze around the star. There were many interested people.

People also seemed to be fascinated by Phil Chambers' Planetary TV show - the 8" SCT displaying Jupiter and Saturn on a Mac laptop via a webcam. Rich's refractor was a show, everyone loves to look through a "real" telescope (argh matey... it even looks like a real telescope)....

By 11:30 I was packed up and on my way home. The CPT was retracted, half its "in use" size, stowed away in its bag. My base collapsed, on top of large Doskosil eyepiece case - everything fit easily into the passenger seat of the Miata. I smiled pulling out - a man and his gear, all in a little two-seater sports car, heading home after a nice short night out....

It was a fun night....

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

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