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Observation Report
Fiddletown, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2001

by: Jim Ster

It was another typical Tac-Sac outing. Lot's of outstanding camaraderie and viewing of extraterrestrial objects took place. We tried to convene a Board meeting to discuss the possibility of forming some committees to look into forming some committees which would in turn do "a lot" for us, but we just couldn't with all the damn stars distracting us. Can you imagine? I just don't understand how this group is ever going to get it's priorities straight! All they ever want to do is go out and play with their damn telescopes! And not to mention their Outreach functions which consists of bringing interested coworkers, friends and other serious amateur astronomers along to their dark sky sites all over California for 7 or 8 hours of observing! Unbelievable! And to top it off, they don't charge any dues and still manage to accomplish their objectives. Oh well. I guess were just doomed to succeed. :)

On the subject of my 12" LX200, I'm proud to announce that it finally has a name. It's now officially known as "Von Braun", or VB for short. FYI, after hanging out with these guys, I actually named it after my Braun coffee grinder not Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist!:) Jim, Mag's and VB

Anyway, VB and I were having an awesome evening, even leading to an interruption of Randy's viewing to point out a fantastic open cluster in Canis Major. I think it was NCG2403 (Randy, please correct me if I'm wrong). Absolutely breathtaking! It looked like strands of pearls in a pile. We even brought Gregg's big gun to bare on it and thought we noticed some nebulosity. Quite fun. This was one of the many objects I was able to view during my "Herschel 400" practice laps. I didn't make any attempt to keep track of exactly how many I was able to see, but suffice it to say that at 11:30 when my corrector plate dewed up and and ended my quest for the evening, I had surveyed at least 120+ of them as well as a dozen or so objects for the rest of the group, which I was very pleased to do for them I might add!

And don't let them fool ya! I think they pushed me off Gregg 's ladder on purpose in an attempt to slow me and VB down a notch!!!! Actually, the ground was soft and one of the ladder legs started to sink into the mush just as I started to view a pair of large edge on and small disc galaxies in the Coma somthingorother(?) which was almost directly overhead at the time, so I was up on about the fourth or fifth rung. At first I was just thankful that it was falling away from Gregg's scope, rather than towards it. But my relief soon turned to serious concern as I realized I was not only falling over with the ladder, but falling downhill, in the dark, into some areas that had lots of rocks popping out of the ground making for some nice things to twist an ankle on. Thank god I stuck the dismount. We all made sure that someone was stabilizing the ladder whenever someone went up high again. But it was usually worth the risk.

My next scheduled outing to Fiddletown will be on February's 3rd quarter Saturday as well as New moon. I plan on making a more serious attempt at those wonderful Herschel's. Hopefully you can make it too.

Since I didn't make any observing notes, I won't bother with a report. Suffice it to say that despite the varying conditions, I enjoyed the evening tremendously. I successfully managed to install my new "Bob's Nobs" and collimate VB for the very first time. Thanks again to Randy for his invitation and assistance and to Gregg and Shneor for sharing their beautiful equipment as well. And Randy, please tell Francis that it was a pleasure to have met him and I look forward to seeing him and his new scope in the near future.

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