Last night (Wed, 12/28) we had a small group of 4 observers at Lake Sonoma including Bob Douglas (28" Starstructure), Mark Toney (20" Teeter dob) and my 24".
The highlight of the evening for me was the blazar CTA 102 (8 billion light years). This is the 4th time I’ve taken a look — the first 3 times the magnitude was between 12.5 and 13.0, although I heard it had been acting erratically in the past week with some spikes in brightness. Well, last night it was at least a half-magnitude brighter than a nearby mag 11.7 star, so certainly mag 11.1-11.3. Wow!! The "normal" magnitude of this quasar is roughly 17.5 so the latest outburst puts is over 300 times brighter. I have never heard of ANY blazar this bright, let alone one this distant. It's probably peaked and will decline after this point, but no one really knows.
We had excellent conditions -- perfectly clear skies in the SQM 21.3-21.4 range and good seeing. I started getting cold and tired around 12:30 but at that point I had logged over 40 objects in 6 hours of observing. Bye-bye, 2016!