Last updated: 31 August 2001

Subject:	Perseids observations
Sent:	Monday, August 13, 2001 15:55:49
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Drove out to Anza Borrego Desert late Saturday afternoon (8/11/01) to
avoid most of the heat. After a quick stop to locate a geocache
(http://www.geocaching.com/) at Murrieta Hot Springs on the way, we
arrived at Little Blair Valley around 7:00 p.m. Weather was nice, slight
breeze, sky clear and blue except for some thunder clouds toward the
east out Borrego Springs way. We saw lightning from that direction most
of the night, but never heard thunder. There was almost no one there!!
About 10 cars total for the entire evening -- either the heat or
possibly the early moonrise discouraged a larger crowed from showing up
-- they missed some nice meteors. I set up my ETX-90EC near our Toyota
4x4 and powered off the car battery the whole evening. Despite Clay's
SuperCharging service, which has received so many accolades, my 2-3 year
old scope that has never seen a "tune-up" managed to track perfectly all
night long. The breeze caused some shaky views, but overall viewing was
quite nice. Our main purpose for the trip was the meteor shower, so to
keep things simple I ran through the Tonight's Best Tour and hit every
single object dead on in my 18mm SWA eyepiece. At one point I centered
on Albireo and then got distracted for almost an hour -- came back to
look and their it was, still centered!!! When taking time to train the
drives, level the scope, place the scope in home position, and getting
the site coordinates accurate (I now use a Garmin Vista GPS unit to take
my readings), good things ARE possible!!!!

Although we did not experience the 50+ meteors per hour "as advertised,"
we did observe a number of real beauties. A couple (Ron & Kathleen)
who camped a little way down the road from us managed to rack up about
140 until they left around 2:00 a.m. Kathleen was a real character, and
I think her high count is due to the fact that she's part chameleon -- I
think her eyes swivel 360 degrees independently in the socket!!! She
managed to see some that most of us seemed to miss. A guy by the name of
Larry showed up, half lost in trying to find Little Blair Valley, then
while introducing himself saw a bright meteor off toward the east, just
above the hilltops and below the quarter moon --  he yelled at all
of us to turn around!! It was an incredible fireball that traveled for a
good 5 seconds before fizzling out, spewing a large trail of fiery
debris behind it. We all agreed it was the best one of the evening.
There were a number of meteors that were relatively bright with
long-lasting trails, but most were quick and short-lived. My wife went
to bed around 11:30, and I managed to hold out until about 3:00 a.m.
before hitting the sack. Woke up about an hour and a half later and
spent some time looking at Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn in the early
morning light. Just before breakfast we hunted for one more geocache
located above the cliffs surrounding Little Blair (with no luck, I might
add), then headed out about 7:30 a.m. to avoid Sunday's heat.

It was a very enjoyable evening -- what the meteor shower lacked in
quantity it made up for in quality, the company was friendly and jovial,
and my little ETX-90EC managed to perform perfectly the whole evening. I
was happy (and very tired) when I got home.

Stan Glaser

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