Monday, June 18, 2007

My First Observation Report

Saturday June 16, 2007
Coyote Lake County Park, CA

Met Lou & Adolfo (friends from SJAA) for viewing. Lou brought and set up a small frefractor for me to use. It was windy, cold, and humid and we packed up and left by 1am.

Since this was my third ever time looking through a telescope, I spent a lot of time just getting oriented. Lou got me familiar with the "summer triangle" of Deneb, Vega & Altair. Under Lou's tutelege, I was able to find M6 & M7 using the tail of Scorpius as my jumping off point. I also revisited M13 and the Ring Nebula from our last viewing session, just to prove to myself I could do it!

Randomly on my own, I ended up looking at the Lagoon Nebula, and it was something. Can't wait to go see it again.

This was also my first chance to get a really good look at the moon. Since it was at about 6%, I had a chance to see just a sliver, and even saw the outlines of things just at the outside edge. And, it was fun to see details even in the shadowy part. A lot of astronomers avoid the full moon, but for awhile I think I will be looking for one, especially if I can get ahold of a filter so it's not so bright in the 'scope.

My favorite observation of the night came when I took a closer look at Delphinus. Through a 9x50 spotter scope, it looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster!! I felt I had indeed been touched by his noodly appendage. Awesome.

Other highlights included meeting a guy who was there with his 16 inch telescope. Really nice viewing through that! The part of the Veil Nebula we saw was just gorgeous-especially after he found his O3 filter. Early in the evening he told us about the feral pig he'd seen there a few days before, which made me a little skittish. Later, when we heard what sounded like a dog fight with some squealing involved, I was just as glad that there was some other guy closer to it than us. Might have been some dogs fighting, might have been coyotes. My bet is coyotes and feral pig.

And, while it doesn't have much to do with stargazing directly, I figured out how to drive our car without engaging the running lights. It really stinks at a star party to suddenly get someone's headlights in your eyes. The whole sky just disappears. Our car has these running lights that are mostly handy, but not so good for being out with astronomers late at night. Lou suggested that I try driving with the hand brake just slightly engaged and that did it. So, I will no longer be the evil killer of night-vision at these things. :)

Thank you for bearing with me as I post my astronomical adventures. I'll label these ones "Astronomy" so if you'd rather skip posts like this in the future, it's easy to do so.

I will end by saying that Venus is looking mighty bright and lovely out there these days, as is Jupiter. We missed Saturn tonight when it started hiding behind the moon, but it's pretty fun to see too. A good pair of binoculars will let you see all kinds of good stuff on the moon, and maybe even make out Saturn's rings. Get out there and have some fun, and tell us all what you see!

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