I am surprised Kent has not
files a report from last night's observing and old folks week.
I had booked a night down in Coinjock at the KOA. Monday
looked a sure bet for weather and I figured that no one would
be camping on Monday with a 40 degree night.
I arrived early at the site
in order to seize a camping spot where I used to set up in the
Cedars. I thought I should hedge my bets and prevent anyone
from starting a fire where it would spoil the view. I need not
have worried. No one came at all as I had predicted. I knew
Kent and Bob might join me down there in the evening. I spent
a quiet day reading in 60 degree weather undisturbed. The
cedars are as they were before. The rest of the campground has
been remarkably changed but as Kent said the outside lighting
has been modified for a more night friendly illumination. More
on that later.
I was quite happy to be back
but with the coming of the long shadows at 5 in the afternoon
I think I understand what the Native Americans say about the
landscape being haunted by ghosts of their ancestors. As you
remember that was the time most people started filing into the
cedars back in the old days but it was only me left standing
where so many once were; now only ghosts. It had not occurred
to me to feel this way, unbidden, until the sun started to set
but I swear it was distinctly strange to be there alone as
none of you all were there anymore.
Yes there are ghosts and they
do inhabit the land. You just have to be there at the right
time and listen. Fortunately Kent and Bob pulled up just as
too many memories were coming up.
We set up my 4 inch and Kent
broke out his 25. Kent had informed me he though it was darker
than before since the new lighting had been installed. Also
there is less traffic due to the different population at the
camp ground, most of whom had gone for the season. Kent was
right. I think it is much darker now.
I believe Kent is late in his
narrative due to all the stars looking like planetaries in
somewhat poor seeing. He has a zillion sightings to report.
Here my four inch had the advantage. Seeing did not really
affect me as much using small aperture. The difference between
the 3 and 25 seeing wise was remarkable. It was a huge
pleasure to observe again under dark skies. You never really
know what your scope can do until you get in the right place.
I was able to see most galaxies Kent was chasing if not define
them quite as much. In 10 transparency there were an infinite
supply of galaxies and nebula to be see even in a 4 inch. And
even one new comet.
I will let Kent provide a
more comprehensive list of objects but the highlights for me
were the bubble nebula, a combination of open cluster and
nebula called the "spider and the fly" in Auriga, NGC 235 way
down south in both the 4 and the 25 almost through the trees.
I had never spent much time on the bubble for some reason but
last night it was easy the Televue with a Baader UHC. Just an
amazing delicate object. You first see the bright clutch of
stars but then the bubble come clear with a bit of patience, a
transparent soap bubble in the sky. Many galaxies were seen,
too many to mention without getting boring.
And oh yes, that comet Atlas
in Orion. There had been some discussion as the magnitude of
it. Kent and I agreed it was 9th magnitude and a fine
telescopic comet. It is a wide fan shape with a fainter tail
that does extend a bit of distance from the head. Last night
it was close on to a 7th magnitude star and at low power
merged into the star. It does respond to a comet filter which
helps show the wide fan of a tail. Easily seen in the 4 and
25. Kent and Bob left around 1030 and I stayed the night. I
quit around midnight exhausted. The milky ways just blazed
overhead. It was worth the 50$ a night for camping in that
sky. The final parting shot was at midnight a dinosaur killing
meteor just blazed east to west under Orion. It lit up the
campground. I have never seen such a wide wide path. It looked
like smoke was rolling off it. It lasted forever in a huge
wide green streak. That was the largest one I have ever seen.
Left the haunted ground at
730 this morning to go back to VB.