Fremont Peak May 3-5, 1997
By Michelle Stone


I arrived at Fremont Peak at 3:30 PM Friday afternoon.

I anticipated that there would be other observer buddies there from the amount of email group traffic discussing it... but was disappointed to discover as the sun set that I would pretty much be the only one there.

I set up my 18" Obsession and my 70mm refractor. I have had the Obsession since March 6 of this year and this weekend would celebrate its 21st, 22nd, and 23rd nights out.

It wasn't long until Ranger Rick dropped by and invited me up to see his presentation. All of the 4th graders from a local elementary school were visiting to see the observatory. I figured that it was a good thing to do and walked up the hill to participate. There were probably around 40 kids with adult chaperones. I invited the adults to bring the kids down for a view through my scope if they didn't get the chance to look through the big one.

I arrived back at my viewing site just as it was getting dark. The cirrus clouds had been threatening all afternoon but were beginning to break up enough to do some decent seeing of favorite objects. It wasn't long until I was showing adults from the elmentary school group images of some of the brighter galaxies and globular clusters. At midnight, the visitors disappeared and I spent time with a late comer and his 8" SCT discovering new objects. We had to chase sucker holes but the seeing was pretty good.

At 3:00 AM the sky clouded it was bed time.

At 7:30, the sun shone brightly through the window in my van. The birds had been singing for an hour or I had to get up. I packed up all of my stuff and moved over to the SW parking lot to be with the "gang" for Saturday night viewing. I had everything set up and ready to go by 11:00. I parked the van in the shade and laid down for a needed nap.

Around 2:00 PM, Jim showed up with his new personally built 16" truss tube. He designed and constructed every piece of the telescope himself except the two mirrors, the spider, diagonal, and eyepiece holder. Everything else was a wonder of inginuity.

Starting at sunset I had a wave of folk dropping by to see the sights. Of course... I pull them towards the scope as they walk by. I can't let them just wander around can I? We had a nice group to chat with and view favorite objects until 2 in the morning. I didn't get much of a chance to chase down objects on my viewing list but I did have a great time sharing with these folks.

From 2 to 3 the skies started to get kind of iffy. I managed to bag 4 objects on my list and then stuff got down right nasty. There were only three of us still standing and I was beat... so I went to bed. I woke up in the morning to find that I was the only one there (boo hoo).

I packed up all the stuff and moved back over by the observatory. I set up and then bed down for a nap. When I awoke, I discovered that John had arrived with his 18" Sky Designs. We were the only two to show up for what looked like a great night. Just after sunset, the clouds started to come in... blech.

Ranger Rick, dropped by and we went up to the observatory to get checked out on the big scope. It was a great opportunity to learn the procedures to operate the instrument. After all, there wasn't all that much else to do... and I have wanted to get checked out on this thing for ever! He asked that I put together a slide presentation for the public. So... I was pretty jazzed about all this.

After we closed down the observatory, we went back to viewing. It was chase the sucker hole night again. But we had a wonderful few hours of observing (mostly favorite objects). I did manage to knock off a couple on my observing list. At 3:30 we both sacked out. When I awoke at 8:00 AM, I was alone again.

I packed up the van and headed home. I sorted through the mail... and got paged from work. Back to work until midnight......