Saturday, June 9, 2001

Fremont Peak Saturday night

A handful of observers went down to Fremont Peak Saturday night. Originally this was going to be Bill Schultz, his family, meeting Pat, Mimi and me, with little of no observing, just a "get out of the house" trip to show his family an observing site. As things tend to go, a few other people heard our plans and wanted to join in. Glad they did, we had a very nice time.

On the way to the Peak, Bill, his wife Sally and their two children joined Pat, Mimi and me, along with Jim and Rachel Everitt at The Longhouse restaurant in Gilroy for dinner. Family style, good portions, reasonable price. I think everyone enjoyed their meals. Afterwards we all proceeded to Fremont Peak. Upon arriving the sky had horsetail clouds and fog hugged the coast from the south but did not cover much of the ocean. The wind was moderate, not bad really, but noticeable. Tourists were in the area, some local men from perhaps SJB were hanging out having a few brews and playing Mexican folk music loudly from their car.

Bill and Sally had brought a couple bottles of Genepi they had made from local yarrow the collected. I could become quite attached to this nice drink. Maybe I'll switch from Fosters! After a few drinks along with some imported chocolate, I decided to put up the 8" scope. It is sure fun to take a small car instead of my Suburban. The scope collapsed and easily fit into the truck of my Mercedes sedan along with all my other observing gear and clothes. The only thing in the backseat with Mimi was the base. I will work on a more portable base in the next few weeks.

The scope drew some attention, which I have become accustomed to. Everyone is curious and interested the first time the see it. I used Bill's laser collimator to align. While I was doing that Nilesh Shah drove up. He pulled out his 12.5" Dob, and Jim yanked his 15" out. Bill had his 7" Mak-Newt, which I don't think he'd used in a year. Another fella was there who used to come to Fremont Peak 20 years ago and now lives in Idaho. A TAC lurker (sorry I forgot your name if you are reading this) was set up with a Tele Vue 85 and a C8.

We had a pleasant and good group.

Once the sky was dark the group looked a mostly pedestrian M objects, although I think Nilesh was still knocking off Hershels on his list. I was enjoying the 8", it is fun to use, and having it set up on my Equatorial Platform just added to the ease and pleasure.

I think I looked mostly at globulars, big and bright. I did note that one globular I hadn't looked at in ages was up. NGC 5897 in Libra was a fun contrast in size, brightness and resolvability with the big bright M's I'd been playing with. It is easy to locate, and certainly has a different appearance in an 8" than the others.

A while later I turned the 8" f/almost7 to Mars. The seeing was coming and going. I ran up to my 7.5mm eyepiece without problem, but could not push it past there with good results. The view were still quite good... easily seeing Syrtis Major (is that right? I'm not a planetary type)... sometimes it looked like four lobes of dark area showing on the surface. It also looked to me as if there were some haze on one of the limbs. The fellow from Idaho was asking about filters, what did I have, how did this view compare to others I'd had. Jim Everitt was having a good chuckle at the idea of my having filters for observing Mars, and told the visitor that this is about as much planetary observing as he'd seen me do ever. True. Still, even though I didn't have the normal Mars filters (red or yellow?), I did try several others.

The OIII was a waste. The UHC and Ultrablock were fun... I yelled out "hey... here's Neptune!!!!"... but really, the detail was too reduced. The Lumicon Deep Sky filter proved its uselessness extended to Mars observing too. However, I did like the Orion Moon filter, as it cut down on that incredible brightness and allowed a more enjoyable, yet more muted, view of the Martian features.

Finally, I took my 10.5mm and looked at the Double Double in Lyra. The splits were clean, relatively steady and the inky blackness provided by this combination of eyepiece and longer focal length scope (with a 1.52" secondary) were just great!

After a few more views of Mars, I noticed the light polluter had risen in the east. This would put an end to deep sky observing and offer a good time to pack it up and head home.

This had been quite a nice evening. The only negative I would mention was a lot of vehicles driving into the SW lot during the night with their headlights on. Many of them left when they found the place occupied. One parked, and its contents emptied out and ascended the Peak... from which a seranade of odd noised ensued.

I'm glad they were up there there, and we were not.

The ride home was uneventful. As happens whenever I observe at the Peak, memories of good times with old friends fill my head.

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