Friday, March 8, 2002

Houge Park fun

At Houge Park we had intermittent clear and murk. There was very good planetary detail, a couple very dark barges transited Jupiter as the night wore on. We too had a nice view of the comet, best at low power. I thought the view through binos was the best... a very bright coma and obvious tail a good 5 degrees long or more, as a guess based on the FOV of the binos. In my 8" f/7 with a 50mm eyepiece the coma was very pronounced, but the tail faded a bit compared to the view in binos.

The public turnout was okay early on but grew sparse after about 9 p.m. I was showing them M42, which had wonderful detail, M81/82, M35 (NGC 2158 was barely detectable). NGC 2903 was nearly impossible, which to me meant the transparency was not so great. M65/66 were there, but nothing to write home about. The Eskimo Nebula was plain gorgeous.... it was funny too, since I found it with the 50mm eyepiece.... someone asked if it was in the field so I told them yes... it appears nearly stellar ;-) which at that power it did. But we pumped up the power and the disk and central star were a wonderful contrast with the close by bright star.

I then began looking at double stars. The public enjoyed Gamma Leonis.... the nearly identical close golden stars were spectacular in color and brightness. Then, for a challenge, I found Zeta Cancri at about 75x and could see two of its components. This is a really outstanding multiple star system... I put in my 3.8mm eyepiece to bump the magnification to about 375x and the star split again.... two very tight stars with the dimmer tertiary close by. The system is probably contains five stars... but one is too tight to detect visually (companion to the tertiary) and the other thought to be a white dwarf. Zeta Cancri is well documented in Burnhams, worth a read, worth a look. I was most pleased at the views my 8" gave on this star.... beautiful pinpoints... even though I did not collimate the scope after arriving late.

The rest of the evening was spent with friends hanging out. We had a nice surprise when Ken Miura showed up, stopping in to see the old gang while travelling from Tokyo to Boulder. We may get to see him again next weekend at Coe or Dino. Others who stopped by were Rich N., Denny W., Marsha R, Ken H, Daniel S, Kevin R and Kevin S, Bob H, Mike K and others. Fun night of in-town buds and observing.

No comments: