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Topics - dnsmiley

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Observing Intents / Observing Intent Lake Sonoma December 9
« on: December 08, 2017, 12:43:52 PM »
I am planning to observe at Lake Sonoma Lone Rock parking lot Saturday December 9. With early sunset at around 4:50 pm there will be about 5 hours of dark sky before moonrise at around midnight.

Currently there are lots of high clouds so I plan to confirm on Saturday morning.

Observing Reports / Lake Sonoma 10/21/17
« on: October 22, 2017, 02:24:54 PM »
I observed last night at Lake Sonoma, Lone Rock parking lot. On the drive up through Santa Rosa I smelled smoke and saw the charred, twisted remains of buildings and horse trailers. Hillsides were black and scorched as utility crews worked to restore services. Further north, the golden vineyards glowed in the late afternoon autumn light, as if the terrible fires were a world away. Approaching the lake, low to mid level clouds seemed to be gathering. At the lot, it clouded up more and threatened to make it a short night. An astronomy class from the junior college was setting up in the upper lot, the instructor telling us it was a make up for the previous week which had to be cancelled due to the fires.

I was borrowing a 13" that my friend Ray built as a travelscope. Along with Ray, another friend with a C8 joined. After sunset, the clouds started to dissipate. Since it had recently rained, I was expecting good transparency but poor seeing, but instead we seemed to get the opposite. Saturn, although low in the SW, was quite steady and I enjoyed detailed views at 209x. Iota Cas triple star was an easy split and the Double Double had plenty of black between solid components. But the Milky Way was not as crisp as I've seen before at this site, and the south in particular seemed a bit opaque.

I had a list prepared from Deep Map 600 which has been the perfect resource for me to get restarted after 20+ years out of astronomy. Although I've seen all the M's and a few hundred "best NGCs", revisiting and adding on new objects is just what I need, and I find DM600 wonderfully curated, using it along with the Pocket Sky Atlas. However between dodging the remaining clouds, helping my friend collimate his C8, trying to figure out the new scope I was borrowing, and talking about old observing buddies, I only completed a handful:

NGC 6800, OC in Vul had an interesting shape that reminded me a bit of a small Brocchi's cluster. 6830 I found small but with an intriguing "M" or power line tower shape. I thought I had found Stock 1 and noted I saw something of a circular shape with 3 brighter stars in a line at the center, but I realize now I misidentified it, I was actually looking at 6823. 6910 just NE of Sadr had a nice "y" shape. I had to try the Veil since I had a new DGM NPB (thanks John Pierce for the recommendation!) and was not disappointed - I could trace out both W and E sections much longer and added Pickering's Wedge which I don't remember seeing in my C8. Beautiful mottled detail.

Ray showed us where to find Uranus which I could see intermittently naked eye. In the scopes a nice bluish disk. I never got around to any galaxies, the sky just looked a bit washed out although it could have been some clouds or moisture floating through. Exception was 891, fainter than I remembered but a good dust lane visible.

We got plenty of dew on maps and cars but not on optics and called it a night early. Not the most productive night, but still plenty fun.

Observing Intents / OI: 2017-10-21 Lake Sonoma
« on: October 21, 2017, 09:32:24 AM »
Hi, I'm planning to go to Lake Sonoma tonight, looks like the rain has cleared things up. I will have a borrowed 13", I think my friend is coming with 17" and we might have a C8 too. Hope to have a good group!

TAC Visual / Lake Sonoma or Dino Point or Pinnacles
« on: October 19, 2017, 12:42:39 PM »

For those who have been to all three sites how do they compare in terms of darkness and horizons? I've looked at dark sky maps and read ORs on TAC. My impression is Lake Sonoma and Pinnacles might be darker than Dino Point but of course local conditions matter. Trying to decide where to go Saturday the 21st, I've only been to Lake Sonoma which is the closest to me, and hoping the predicted rain will clear it up, but if not will travel south.


Observing Reports / Lake Sonoma 9/23/17
« on: September 25, 2017, 05:40:53 AM »
I observed at Lake Sonoma Lone Rock parking lot on Saturday 9/23. Conditions were much better than the previous week, with good transparency and a well defined Milky Way. A three day old crescent moon was not too obtrusive. There were about 5 or 6 observers including one imager. I set up my C8 next to my friends Ray's 18". I went through a list of globulars and galaxies, including NGC 6723 and attending nebulosity on the Sag/Corona Australis border which made a nice field. I also think I managed Barnard's Galaxy, as I found the Little Gem planetary, then eased south and a bit east to a milky patch elongated north/south. It was faint, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Ray had Jones 1, an interesting planetary in Pegasus which showed nicely in an Orion UHC filter. I enjoyed edge-on galaxy NGC 6207 near M13 tonight, which I couldn't see in the haze last week. Through the 18", the "propeller" in M13 was clear but we couldn't see IC 4617, the other galaxy between M13 and NGC 6207, although I have seen it in a 25".

NGC 6939 and 6946, the open cluster and Fireworks galaxy pair in Cepheus, had me literally on my knees trying to look through the finder on my C8. I need a RACI finder for these northern objects! Finally got it, the galaxy big but amorphous, no sign of arms, the cluster very rich and reminding me of M11. In the 18" we did see indications of the spiral arms.

M55, M2, NGC 7814 and then M71 with its interesting shape reminding me of a tropical fish swimming through a sea of stars. Continuing the aquatic theme I went up to the nose of the dolphin, Gamma Delphini, ending the night on that beautiful double. A good night!

Observing Intents / OI: Lake Sonoma 9-23-17
« on: September 23, 2017, 12:45:01 PM »
I'm planning to go Lake Sonoma Lone Rock parking tonight, looks like nice weather. So far looks like a 18" and a C8 coming.

Observing Reports / Lake Sonoma 9/16/17
« on: September 17, 2017, 09:43:55 AM »
I observed last night at Lone Rock parking lot at Lake Sonoma. There was a nice turnout, more than a dozen observers and some large scopes including two 20+" StarStructures. This was only my second time at Lake Sonoma, a few people said it was one of the largest gatherings they had seen in this location.

Compared to my first visit two months ago on July 24, transparency and darkness were noticeably worse, probably from residual smoke and haze from wildfires. The Milky Way lacked the clarity and richness I remember, but nevertheless I enjoyed hunting down a few new targets, mainly some globulars in Sagittarius I don't remember seeing before including NGCs 6638, 6528 and 6522 and revisiting favorites M28, M22, M2 and M15. NGC 7331, galaxy in Pegasus, was nicely shown in my C8 at 85x as elongated with a bright central area, but I didn't glimpse any of its companions. I had Barnard's Galaxy NGC 6822 on my list. I thought I glimpsed it with 7x50 binoculars, but couldn't confirm. I could not see it either with the C8 or a TeleVue 76 APO. It will have to await a better night I suppose.

Using my Lumicon O-III filter from back in the 90s, I saw the western portion of the Veil Nebula around 52 Cygni as beautiful "smoke" draping and rising from the star, but the view in my neighbor's 8" achromat of the eastern Veil also with filter was much better, and many more stars were visible. Do O-III filters degrade over time? Mine seemed too aggressive in blocking light.

My friend and I packed up as the Pleiades were rising. Even if transparency seemed a bit lacking, it was a wonderful night meeting some old friends and making new ones, both of the human and astronomical kind!

Observing Intents / Lake Sonoma Saturday 9-16-2017
« on: September 15, 2017, 02:12:02 PM »

I'm planning to observe tomorrow, Saturday 9/16 at Lake Sonoma. I'm bringing a friend and believe there might be 5-10 others also planning to come, so I thought I would post here for anyone who might be interested. Hope to meet new observers!

Observing Reports / First time Lake Sonoma 7/24/17
« on: July 25, 2017, 01:52:33 PM »
Last night 7/24/17 I observed for the first time at Lake Sonoma, Lone Rock parking lot. A friend, also from SFAA, joined so we had two C8s plus a new Televue TV76. I enjoyed the site, much darker than Mt. Tam, Milky Way well visible and good horizons. Scorpius sprawled in the south, we could easily see under the tail. M22 was very nice in the Ethos 13mm, M51 showed spiral detail, I finally split Izar after having trouble with the seeing at my house in Mill Valley.
But the most fun was scanning the Milky Way with the TV76, a 24mm Panoptic gave a beautiful 3.2 degree field, the Lagoon and Trifid were set in a sparkling field, Antares and M4 likewise, the Swan Nebula stunning and swimming in star fields. No faint fuzzies hunting this night, unless you count the endless knots of luminosity in Sagittarius and Cygnus.
We had some dew starting around 11 pm and a handful of headlights. A fast colorful meteor from the zenith towards Polaris marked the end of my session around midnight. Hope to return often here!

Observing Intents / Lake Sonoma Monday July 24?
« on: July 18, 2017, 06:23:25 AM »
Hi, I'm considering observing at Lake Sonoma for the first time Monday July 24, wondering if anyone else might want to come. It sounds like a nice site, my only concern is driving home late to Mill Valley since there is no overnight access. If anyone knows a decent observing site closer to Marin county, would appreciate hearing about it.


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