Saturday, January 8, 2000

Plettstone weekend...

Just a bit about observing at Michelle Stone's property Saturday night.

I arrived mid afternoon to find the skies mostly cloudy. The drive from Los Gatos south, through Pacheco Pass then up to Merced and finally east toward Maraposa was easy, but it was clouds all the way. I think for me it is a bit longer drive than going to Fiddletown, but not by much.

When I arrived, Michelle and Ken Head were there. The sky had been quite good the prior night, and word was that the clouds were nasty during the afternoon that day too, so there was some hope. I set up and was just starting to relax when up drove John Gleason and Marsha Robinson. As they set up, up drove Kurt Kuhlmann and Stacy McDermott. We would also be joined by Pete Santangeli, Ray and Brandon Gralak and Jay Freeman. It was a very enjoyable group.

Initially, the sky did not cooperate, and there was a lot of talking about equipment, among other topics. Some of the group holed up in Michelle's cabin, nice and cozy, with the fire in the woodburning stove. Stacie, with her new refractor, just couldn't be kept indoors, and was popping objects where holes in the sky would allow.

Soon though, things cleared. Ken and I pointed our scopes toward Lynx to cat around the Herschel list in that part of the sky. We found several while taking time to look through other's scopes and generally visit with friends. Since my equipment, and log books, are still in the truck this morning, I won't include a list of viewed objects, but I can tell you that there are some very nice galaxy grouping in Lynx. If I recall correctly, a favorite was NGC2719, 2719A and NGC2724. The two 2719's were very tight, and at about 100X appeared to have just a bit of "black" between them, and would have benefitted from higher magnification. There were a few other groups where four or more galaxies were in the same field, and you knew that on a better night, it would be possible to cound anywhere from six to twelve together. Lynx runs between the front paws of Ursa Major and the head of Gemini, is now in a good position for observing, and seems to contain a wealth of targets.

The night ended about 1 a.m., as a guess. Bands of clouds began approaching from the northwest and soon covered the sky. It had been a good night. We stood around talking more, saying goodbye to a few observers who either took inexpensive rooms in Miraposa, or decided to drive back to the bay area during the night.

I think everyone who was there would agree, the "most appreciated observer" award would have to go to Jay Freeman. While Michelle Stone was her usual wonderful gracious host for having us up, it was Jay, not feeling well (flu?) and leaving for his room in Miraposa early, then returning with two delicious pizzas (!!!) who gets the award. Here's to you Jay! The combination of Pie and Sky was a winner!

No comments: