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Observation Report
Fiddletown, Saturday, April 21, 2001

by: Dennis Beckley

Saturday night at Fiddletown was one of the visually poorest nights in my recent memory. There were 6 of us there including Steve Gottlieb, Ray Cash and 3 member of TAC-SAC, Randy Muller, Jane and Allan. The spirits were willing but the atmosphere wouldn't cooperate. The Skies were plenty dark and the seeing was steady (saw lots of double star clean split through Ray Cash's Tele Vue refractor) but the humidity was pegged around 95% most of the night resulting in gross deterioration of contrast in extended objects. Definitely not a good night for deep sky!

The highlights of the night for me were seeing Omega Centauri pass about 5 degrees above the southern horizon through my 10x70 fuji's around midnight and then seeing Mars through my obsession 18 around 2:00 A.M. (fairly large and bright with definite markings and a polar cap). I blew a fuse in my Kendrick dew system early on which was a definite downer and spent the last couple of hours glued to a hair dryer. Tried looking at the Leo Trio but it was very soft and washed out and had difficulty making out the 3rd member (normally an easy target for my 4 inch Tak, barely discernable through an 18!).

On the bright side the company was good and Jane was having a ball with her new 12.5 inch Starmaster. Enjoyed talking to Allan and watching the meteor shower (one was so bright it literally lit up the ground!). I'm finding it's a whole different world moving up from a 13 inch scope to an 18 (more packing of accessory gizmos' such as wheel barrel handles, ramps, small ladder, etc). However my new Tom O platform worked well and I was able to get it to work with my NGC-Max box once Steve told me that I had to change the set-up mode to ET rather than AV! (duh). I can highly recommend the new "Dew Box" that I bought for my laptop on Astromart. Everything under it's cover stayed high and dry. Big lesson learned - don't go up to Fiddletown after a rain front has just passed through.

Dennis Beckley

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