Fremont Peak 10/18/97
I arrived at the peak just after Bill in the afternoon. This was the first time in quite a while that I arrived later in the day. It was also a first to not have several of our group in attendance since spring. The moon and the cooler weather are intimidating to some.
Bill wanted to set up by the Coulter picnic area and I thought that sounded good. I have never viewed from this site before because of the onslaught of automobile lights that plague the area on most Saturday nights. There were only two of us and the park was virtually empty so I said.. Sure!
It is a nice spot with a good southern exposure. No northern exposure is visible due to a couple of large Quercus who have laid previous claim to the site.
I had intended to just set up my 3" Pronto but I had dragged out the 18" just in case I felt inclined to set it up for a 2 hour session. Bill talked me into setting it up and I was not sorry.
The evening commenced with an outstanding transit of IO accross Jupiter. We were able to track the moon for some distance as it passed in front of the planet. Others have indicated that the seeing was not good but I have not seen such detail or clarity on Jupiter before. I could see the tan bands clearly deliniating the GRS. The shadow of IO soon came into view and was very pronounced. This was great fun to watch on and off for the next hour or so.
A few folks dropped in to see what was going on. They had seen the notice on the TAC website. The first couple stood off in the distance trying to ascertain if we were indeed the TAC folks (The three of us Robin, Bill and myself). I invited them to come on in and take a look. I gave them a brief tour of the sky and the different kinds of objects that you can see.
For perhaps the last time of the season, I took them on a brief tour through Sagitarius. The Lagoon and Trifid had lost a bit of their splendor due to the light from the horizon. The swan still showed magnificantly at high power and they were soon enveloped in the swirling clouds of this magnificent wonder.
Bill showed them Jupiter through his new binos. They were both very enthusiastic about the activity. I hope that they join us. Jay arrived shortly with his new toy and proceeded to set it up. We had more company and I spent the rest of the "dark" time with these folks showing them the deep sky splendors.
Then the moon came up. The sky was soon washed out and we started playing with out toys, pushing them to the limits to see just how far they can go. The views of the moon were very good. I thought that it might be fun to pump up the magnification on the Obsession. I took off the aperature mask and put in a 4.8 Nagler with a triple barlow. This puts the power above 1200. The detail observable was truly incredible. I swear that I could have seen that golf ball if only I were in the right place. The way to view at this power was to set the scope a bit away from where I wanted to view and then let the subject area float into view. Everyone took a peek including Jay who spent a good deal of time at the eyepiece without uttering a single word as he drank it in.
And then... before we knew it, the occultation of Aldeberan. I have never witnessed this kind of event before. I thought that it wouldn't be all that exciting to watch. But I really enjoyed sharing the experience with fellow observers. I put a very wide eyepiece (40mm) in the Obsession. I could see only the moon and the golden star against a black backdrop. All of us sat glued to our eyepieces as the event unfolded. The moon approached and quickly swalloed the sparkling gem.
I hung out for a bit then packed up. On the way down the hill I saw several deer (almost hitting two), a fat wadling skunk in the MIDDLE of the road, a fox, a rabbit, and a pig. I drove slowly and enjoyed the second half of the show.
What I thought would be a quick 2 hour night turned into one of the most enjoyable shows of the season.