« on: July 01, 2016, 12:25:15 PM »
It had been a long time since I'd observed from the overflow lot at Coe, and I was pleased to find that it's still a nice site. Access was no problem with a call ahead to the ranger. Though she didn't mention it, I did pay the Day Use fee via the Iron Ranger at the park entrance, about a 1/2 mile up the road past the overflow lot. Gotta support the parks!
I arrived around 8 and it was breezy. For an hour after dusk the wind was strong enough at times to buffet the scope; it settled down a bit as the evening progressed but there was still a light breeze at midnight. T shirt weather until I packed up at 12.30.
The lower western sky was all blown out by Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and the San Jose suburbs. Some city lights are directly visible to the W, so I was glad I set up at the eastern edge of the lot which screened most of the lights and minimized the wind. 3 cars drove by after dark, the last around 12.30.
To the E there was a little glow through the trees from lights at the park HQ, but no lights were directly visible and the sky in that direction did not look much affected. The eastern sky, from about N down to SSE, was quite dark almost to the horizon. Near the zenith, M13 was easy naked eye, which is one of my informal tests for whether a site is worth a little drive. Speaking of which...drive time down from Walnut Creek was 2.30, taking it easy in frequent heavy traffic, and the late night ride home was only 1.40.
Observing was mostly just gawking at eye candy in the 17.5". I did see the Bug Nebula (NGC6302 IIRC) in Scorpius, and the Box Nebula. And lots of globs. I spent some time comparing the Messier globs in Ophiuchus, with their variety of visual textures. M12 reminded me of a crab, with its right claw much larger than the left.
So, a fun night, and I achieved most of the testing that I'd hoped for. It was good to be back at Coe, where I have happy memories of Messier marathoning and Hale-Bopp.