Author Topic: A night in the SW lot at Fremont Peak  (Read 1534 times)

John Pierce

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A night in the SW lot at Fremont Peak
« on: August 24, 2014, 03:41:23 AM »
I have to confess.  I've never observed at Fremont Peak before.   I've been there a couple times, went to a StarBQue a couple years back (overcast)...  but never brought my scope up there in the 15+ years I've been doing amateur astronomy.

So, tonight, I decided to go.  I hadn't RSVP'd for the Star B Que, and frankly wasn't in the mood for crowds, so I left Santa Cruz at 7pm, and arrived at the peak at 8pm, sunset, and parked on the south edge of the SW parking lot.   The lot was mostly full of cars but the two spaces on the south edge were empty, so I backed into the west-most of those spaces, and didn't back up all the way, and setup my gear next to my car in the 'triangle' of no parking.   

I setup a pair of Oberwerk BT45-100 binocs on a sturdy tripod, and a XT12i 12" tin can dob.   

Early on I had a bunch of visitors, don't think they were there for the starbque, showed them Saturn at 200X in the XT12, let them play with the binocs, got lots of oooohs and aaaahs.  As it got dark, M31 (Andromeda galaxy) came up over  the trees, so I put the 25x100 binocs on that.  wow.

Peter Natscher came by, he was parked in that lot, and visited with me but didn't have any gear out.   he left early.   a guy from Seaside showed up and setup a little 4.5" Starquest on a EQ3...  We traded views.   Bill from S'Cruz came down from the star-b-que, he was parked in the same lot, so he took a look at m31 in the big binocs.

In the XT12, I showed various folks (and myself) Saturn, Mars, M4, M51, M13, M27, and comet C/2014 E2 Jacques.

In the binocs, I did Andromeda, noodled around a bunch of the Cygnus area of the Milky Way, including the dark clouds north of Deneb.  Also found the 'coat hanger' asterism/cluster, great fun with a 2.7 deg. field of view, it just fit.  I teased quite a bunch of filaments out of m27 at 180X in the 12"

seeing was meh early, but got OK after 10.     I decided to bail about 12:30 as I had an hour drive home and didn't wanna crash.

part of the reason I went out was equipment evaluation.

I'm quite happy with my Explore Scientific eyepiece set.   I mostly used a 8.8mm 82 wide and a 14mm 82 wide in the XT12 (FL=1500) tonight.     

The XT12 mirror mount is a bit funky, it took me some bopping on it before I could get it to collimate properly.   not real happy with the spider, either, its not nearly as consistent as my 1800destiny curved vane spider on my 10" coulter.    still, once I got things collimated, I star tested a couple times during the evening and it was pretty close to symmetric at the 200X i was using.

The Oberwerk 25x100 binocs are an amazing instrument for big open clusters, star fields, and so forth.    I can tell they'll be even better with upgraded eyepieces.     they also rock for nature viewing, birds, sea otters, deer, etc.


DDK

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Re: A night in the SW lot at Fremont Peak
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 06:49:09 PM »
Pierce! Welcome to the observing world of the Peak. My latest time up there was a couple months ago, as was documented here. Glad you liked the SW lot. Is that 12 new to you, or a club scope? Don't want your Coulter to get too jealous.
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John Pierce

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Re: A night in the SW lot at Fremont Peak
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 07:46:09 PM »
its a club scope.  an XT12i



Marko

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Re: A night in the SW lot at Fremont Peak
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 02:27:26 AM »
It is just a great drive up there and a great mountain sight experience even before the observing starts.  SW lot on nights of the SBBQ is a non-ideal experience because there are constant cars leaving the BBQ that would normally not be the case on quieter nights.

The sunset over the marine layer is very satisfying because then you know the marine layer will nuke most of Salinas light dome as an extra plus for the night that follows.

If you get there early enough you can climb to the top of the peak and sit on the very top to gaze around at montery bay and I gotta tell you that on a non-marine layer, fairly non-hazy day, that is HIGHLY recommended fun worthy of a person's 'bucket list'. 

My personal favorite for the Peak is to pay the extra bucks to the club and gain access to 'The Pads' over by the observatory which have the best horizons (especially the ONLY deep south horizon down to horizon at some points).   I observed NGC 5286 at -52 degrees from the most east pad although it did take 3 visits to get the transparency just right and catch it in that narrow less than an hour window.  But Omega Cen is great from the peak when transparency allows.
Let me roam the deep skies and I'll be content.