Sat May 3, 2008. Losing Ten Inches Ain't Fun!

Mark Wagner

Last Saturday Richard Navarrete convinced me to ignore my instincts, and meet him at Henry Coe State Park with our 18" Dobs. The plan was to see how it went, prepare to stay the night, but be ready to bail out if conditions were poor.

Well, they were. Driving down 101 looking toward Fremont Peak from around the Coyote Valley, well, there was no Fremont Peak. A low mucky haze covered everything. If I didn't know better, I'd swear we were back in fire season, it looked like we were smoked out. I arrived at Coe before Richard, and was pleased to see Jim Collins there. Hadn't seen him in ages, as he had moved to Chico a year back. Good to see you Jim! At the time, a stiff wind was a worry. It was chilly too. And, did I say it was mucky looking? Well, it was mucky looking. Richard arrived, his usual upbeat self. I had a hard time remaining glum about the prospects.

Sunset was spectacular. It was then that I realized a good observing night is a great thing, but even getting out and seeing a view like that sunset was worth the drive. I was feeling good again. Thanks Richard! I hope those reading this looked at the photo Richard posted on the TAC Flickr account, quite good, giving a nice feel for what it was like there.

Reading the other observing reports that have come in, the few of them, its clear that it wasn't, clear. The only place that oddly did well was Fremont Peak - and there's Jamie popping his buttons about it. Phooey Jamie. I'm happy for you, and Rich, and my long lost bud Rod, but it didn't help me feel better ;-) When I read your report, I could only think of one of my favorite lines in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" - - - when Clooney can't get his Dapper Dan, and tells the store owner that his place is some sort of geographical oddity - its 2 weeks from everywhere! Well, that was Fremont Peak I guess. The oddity of observing sites last Saturday - a good one! I do see Steve got in some good observing too. Well, not me.

As Richard stated, our 18's were more like 8's out there. For sure, losing ten inches ain't fun. What frustration! But I did log some targets, and had fun with the rest of the gang there. Hawley had brought a new imaging gizmo, which looked quite slick. I met Marcel and Janet (is that right, Janet?). Scott Baker was fun to be set up by. He took my imaging ribbing right in stride. Anyway, all in all, it was fun, even with the frustration. We packed up and headed home about 12:30. Enough rest to enjoy the Lakers game and not enjoy the Sharks game (marathon) on Sunday.

By the way, Richard and I took a short hike to pay our fees at the ranger station at Coe. Very nice little hike. A few wildflower, mosses, lichens, all sorts of cool stuff to look at, and a bit of exercise. Try it next time!

Here are the few raw notes I logged from Saturday. You'll get the idea:

N5585 Uma GX 6.1'x3.8' 11.2B 14 19 47 56 43 45
Very large, very dim, elongated n/s. No detail in bad sky.

N5443 Uma GX 3.2'x1.2' 13.1P 14 02 11 55 48 56
Nice elongated galaxy ne/sw, appears mottled or ragged, almost as if there is a double core, 7mm, poor transparency. Actual core is large, fat, and has hint of stellar nucleus.

N5485 Uma GX 2.4'x1.8' 11.4V 14 07 11 55 00 05
Round galaxy, fairly small, dim halo with smallish brighter core and dim stellar nucleus, 12mm. With 7mm, hints of elongation n/s and some mottling, possible spiral structure noted to N of core.

NGC 5473 Uma GX 2.3'x1.8' 12.4B 14 04 43 54 53 35
Round disk of a possible small face on spiral, dim halo, small brighter core with bright stellar nucleus popping in averted.

N5687 Boo GX 2.4'x1.6' 12.6B 14 34 52 54 28 35
Small, elongated wwnw/eese, dim, brightish core, potentially a dim stellar nucleus. Nice galaxy with foreground stars embedded in leading edge.

NGC 5474 Uma GX 4.7'x4.7' 11.3B 14 05 01 53 39 38
Roundish or slightly irregular, mottled appearance, little to no detail? Offset core?

After a while, I began losing interest. Fortunately, Judy (Julie?) asked me to show her some constellations. Scott had a green laser (woooo!) that he lent me, so I was off and running, drawing lines in the sky. Hawley came over saying he was shooting wide-field where I had just begun to move too, so I put gave the laser back and we moved to the eyepiece.

M13 was way muted, but Julie and Marcel enjoyed it anyway. Same for M92. The one surprise of the night was M51, with a 12 Nagler, up high. Decent detail.

I think that's what I closed the night with. I don't know if others stayed much later, but the Clear Sky "Charts" indicated a worsening of transparency around 1 a.m., and I just wasn't into seeing how correct it might be.

Looking forward to next time. I can only get better, and I'd dearly love those ten inches back!


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