Last updated: 11 July 2003
Subject: Big Bear CA 4th of July Observing report [Long] Sent: Tuesday, July 8, 2003 12:00:41 From: ETX_Astro_Boy@sbcglobal.net (Craig Bobchin) After many weeks of not being able to observe (weather related, work travel related, etc...) I finally got a chance to take my light mug (an ETX 105 UHTC) out to a fairly dark area this past weekend. I went up to Big Bear Ca with my wife's church group. The 1st night We went to the lake and watched the fireworks. When we came back I set up the ETX in as dark an area as I could find in the camp (Lots of security lights and poorly designed at that (something I hope to have addressed and changed in the future.)and took some folks on a tour of the skys. We had a difficult time since there were lots of tall trees so we were limited to pretty much objects from about 60 deg. up to zenith. I showed folks a couple of globular clusters and double stars, but not much else was visible from that locale due to the foliage. However due to the problems in the area drought, and bark beetles, there were far fewer trees than the last time I was there, and there are 17 more trees scheduled to come down. But I was not too disappointed as the scope performed flawlessly. The next night I headed to a spot I found on the north shore that afforded a clear 360 deg. view with very little light interference. It wasn't perfect, as every so often a car on the road would come around a curve and I'd see the headlights shining towards me. But they were far enough away that they didn't really bother me. I set up and aligned the light mug and since the moon was up decided to waste little time observing the moon at various powers. Seeing was about a 6/10 and I noticed quite a bit of boiling in the atmosphere. Transparency was a 8/10 and just amazing. I also finally got a chance to nab a lot of the M objects in my 105. Living in North Orange Cty. the light pollution washes many of these out and makes it almost impossible to see from my home. Started out with M57 and man it was right in the F.O.V. of the 24-8mm televue zoom I just got my hands on. I could only go to about to about 153x before the image broke down but the ring was beautiful. Got M51, and M31 (the core was bright and the rest trailed off to haze.) M81 and 82 as well as the 2 globs in Hercules. At this time I took a break and just watched the sky unaided. The milky way streached from NE to S. and I was able to make out quite a bit of structure in it. It was simply breathtaking. I saw a couple of meteors and a satellite or two as well. By this time the moon had set behind a hill and Mars was rising in the SE. A couple of gentlemen who were testing their boat were coming back and we had a chat. They have an ETX-90 that they don't know how to use. I of course pointed them to your site. They live in Pasadena so they are also going to look for a local astro group to check out. I took a quick look at Mars but it was still in the murk and dancing the macarena. I did get a few moments of steady seeing and was able to make out the Southern polar cap/hood as well as Sinus Sebaeus and a few other dark areas. But I knew I had to wait a while longer till it cleared most of the murk. I took this time to try and get some digicam shots through the EP but no luck in any of the shots. I guess I need to get a hartmann mask and external LCD to help me focus. I finally packed it in around 1:30 after observing Mars exclusively for the last 40 minutes and headed back to camp. During this time I thought I saw one of Mar's moons just off the limb (eastern I'm guessing) but I can't be sure. It was only visible with averted vison so I'm not sure if it was there or it was an illusion caused my the dancing atmosphere. Around 4:00 am both my wife and I were awake and we headed outside and I showed her Mars and the milky way without the scope but it was still impressive.
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