Friday, January 20, 2006

Houge Park 1/20

Last night's turnout at Houge Park was both surprising and not. There were lots of scopes, and early on lots of public. With temps forecast to be very chilly, I really didn't expect to see too many of the public, but folks were out with thier kids - oooohing and ahhhhing over crisp views of Saturn. Since the night was so nice and clear, it really was not such a surprise to see all those scopes. Those who came out were rewarded with very steady seeing. I thought the transparency was off (it was dewy) - I could not see M44 naked eye, nor could I find some benchmark objects like NGC2903 in my 10" f/5.7 reflector. M42 was a highlight of course - at 120X (12mm Nagler) the E and F star in the Trapezium was easily visible - and about as steady a view as I've had. I tried serveral filters but the reduced transparency made them less effective than I'd liked, so I went back to unfiltered.

Other targets that were fun to hunt down included M79, which did not resolve well, The Eskino Nebula - with the 7 Nagler this showed two shells, Gamma Leonis - what a pretty double!... M35 - but no sign of NGC 2158 in these skies... I "found" M1 - just a hint of a haze, but there. Of course I peeked at Mars - sure is small now - but there are still surface markings darkening it.

We were joking about my telescope, that since it took trips to Chile and Australia last year, it was more well travelled than I am. This led to discussions about travel scopes and telescope design... always interesting topics. Kevin Schuerman showed up and brought out a 10" Johnsonian - which Dennis Beckley is taking to Costa Rica - interesting scope - packs up into a durm case. I realized I really hadn't had my 10" scope out in a very long time - the last person to use it was Marek, on his trip to Oz. I resolved to get out observing more often (especially after TAC's observing-cop Marshall Dillon chastized me publicly for being an astro-wimp) - Houge can be a fun place - so I'll begin to frequent it again.

It was also great to see so many friends. Mike Koop, Rob Hawley, Rich Neuschaefer, Kevin Schuerman, Kevin Roberts, Heather (galaxy girl), Alan Zaza, Daniel Stefanescu (sp?), James Turley, Phil Terzian, Phil Chambers, Gordon Reade, Gary Mitchell... and meeting new friends. Good to see them all.

And of course, spreading the fun by having first timers look through telescopes - that's what makes Houge a great place...

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