Plettstone Observing report 10/5-6/97

By: Sandra Macika



I had a wonderful time at the Plett-Stone Wild Life Astronomical Preserve! I would say Wild Life and wildlife! Staring at galaxies is Wild and Life! And there are plenty of different birds coming to several different feeders to account for the wildlife. We had a lot of fun!

I arrived on Friday night. The first order of business was to check out those gorgeous photos! They are so colorful and beautiful! The one of M42 and M43 reminds me that I saw beautiful views of those nebulas for the first time on my birthday! Rich's and Michelle's scopes both did a wonderful job, but I didn't know that I was supposed to look for the 5th and 6th stars. And I was so impressed with the horse head photo! It does look exactly like a horse head!

Michelle had her C8 and Pronto. We looked at a lot of beautiful things, but I was very tired from the drive. It was worth it though! We did see a lot of meteors! At around 2 am, Michelle wanted me to get up and look at beautiful Saturn. But it was sooo cold. I said, "I'll get up and check out the three moon transit at 4 am. zzZ zzZ zzZ." :-)

I guess we all slept through this spectacular sight?

Saturday I looked around the property and met Michelle's husband, Paul. He is very nice and the property is wonderful! She has really picked a great observing site! We spent the morning on the porch watching the hummingbirds play. Then I went for a long hike up on some ridge. It was incredible! I could see Yosemite Valley off in the distant mountain range! It is an interesting perspective that shows the immensity of the glacial effect. I walked a little further and saw a beautiful blue lake. It was a great hike. The road / trail starts very near the PSWLAP.

I got back just as Paul finished cooking a wonderful bar-b-qued chicken! I provided the salad and bread. It was a great meal after a vigorous hike. Then I had an awesome shower! The water is hot and it is just like your shower at home! Except you look up at the beautiful stars of dark skies! I wish I could shower like that every night.

Later I was able to check out the sky from the observatory sight. We were camped in a different area because the site is still under construction. It is incredible! The skies are clear and DARK! The ONLY lights were the ones we lit. The site where we camped was also beautiful, with only a few trees. Michelle could see magnitude 6 stars but I could only see mag 5. I will have to check the same stars at the peak, but I am sure the sky was darker at PSWLAP. Maybe next year I will have trained my eyes to see mag 6.

I spent the evening drawing beautiful pictures using Michelle's 480 mm Pronto, talking and drinking wine. And I already posted about the MIR pass we saw (which I mistakenly called the Shuttle - thanks for informing me, Craig!).

I woke just before sunrise. The mag 1 stars of Orion, Gemini and Canis Major were high but it was still soooo cold. I was wearing the same clothes that I use in the summer, which isn't a lot because I am usually too warm in my sleeping bag. Next time I will be fine with some thermal underwear and some warm sweats.

Thanks so much to my wonderful hosts! Sandra

Sandra Macika