Thursday night, 23 February, looked like our best weather window for observing this new moon cycle, 3 of us showed up at Dinosaur Point. Boy were we right. Somehow there was no dew, all the clouds dropped by 8 pm, transparency was at 6.3 limiting magnitude for me, and the seeing was sharp, 5/5, which is rare for Dino.
Peter Natscher brought his snazzy 16”, to which he continues to remain true. Mark McCarthy had his 10” Springsonian comet hunter, just an amazing telescope mechanically and visually. As usual he left his Terminagler in the focuser most of the time, for an actual field of view around 2.5 degrees. For fun, I drove my two-seater del Sol and brought the trusty Orion Ultraview 10x50s with a parallelogram mount. You shoulda seen Peter’s moon eyes when I drove up - “How’d you fit Johannes (my 13) in there?” No packing magic, just brought the 2”.
We swapped views back and forth, along with all manner of banter. Highlights included Peter sketching a little blue planetary, which showed bright color in his scope. If I were a better person I’d remember its name. The picture in McCarthy’s scope that sticks in memory was a sharp view of the Leo Triplet, all in the same eyepiece field and all distinct. M65, M66 and ngc 3628, always interesting.
I spent most of the night scanning around in Monoceros and Canis Major. The winter Milky Way there is endlessly fascinating in any aperture. This time I kept coming back to this big fancy dense open cluster, with other bright ones ranging off to the west. Matching the field on the chart, surprise it was M46, with of course no planetary (2438) superimposed to cinch the ID. M47 right next to it, then 2374 and 2360 looking fancy, within 6’ marching due west.
Jupiter was up high enough by midnight for some oohing and aahing, with all 4 big moons in close, along with the GRS. Here comes Jupiter.
And by 1 am we were packed and rolling. We wore enough layers to stay warm with the temps in the mid-30s.
Here’s to Dinosaur Point, with one more winter season in the bin. And good company.
And here's to TAC. There's reason people call us the hardcore observers. And we're here for the fun!