Notes From The Field - Unseasonable Warm...and DEW!

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Apollo XX
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Notes From The Field - Unseasonable Warm...and DEW!

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May 21st, 2022 – Evening Into Night;

The temperatures during the day soared into the low 90’s on what was forecasted to be the first of two days of exceedingly and unseasonably high temperatures, and by suppertime I’m feeling the effects. My mind may have its days where it wants to deny my place on the scale of life, but my body sure puts in a big effort these days to set it straight. As I chowed down on an exceptional dish of fresh grilled salmon, rice medley and broccoli spears I was starting to rethink my bigshot thoughts of a day ago when I put out a notice to the group about gathering to observe at the field tonight. But in my heart of hearts I know we have to take advantage of the clear nights presented to us. Just for kicks I put a sweatshirt in the truck that would likely never get used and headed over to Norwell.

As usual, I’m one of the later arrivals for the gathering and when I get there Louis has got his big dob almost all assembled, Mike C. has got his scope and camera ready to go, and Bob S. and Steve R. are meandering around the court in the early twilight. There’s still plenty of time before the observing can begin so I take it slow in setting up the rig I’ve dubbed the “truck scope”, so named because it’s a setup that rides perpetually in the back seat from which it can be deployed anytime, anyplace. It’s actually a pretty competent gathering of bits and pieces sourced from Craigslist finds and stuff that was included with other purchases, and although not ‘premium’ by any version of the definition, it’s still not bad.

When darkness finally arrived the court became a quiet beehive of activity. Louis was wielding actual wrenches and screwdrivers on his optics in an effort achieve precise collimation, Mike was going through the steps required to land tiny targets in the sky on a tiny chip in a camera, Bob was supervising the both of them and making sure they did it right, while Steve found that lying flat on his back in the middle of the court improved his binocular experience. Me, I was fiddling with too-small setting circles in an effort to land the dim observer’s challenge object in the eyepiece.

In the end a good time was had by all. Louis resolved most of his collimation issues and then reveled in the murky sky as he galaxy-hopped around behind the lion. Mike found that minimal focuser adjustments made maximal improvements in his EAA practices, Steve chased satellite after satellite across the sky, and I got my observer’s challenge observation. We then spent some time sharing the views of various targets, and shortly after 10:00 P.M. we were all broken down, packed up, and headed home. And just in case you were wondering, the sweatshirt never did get worn.

M106 McCabe.jpg
M106 McCabe.jpg (311.72 KiB) Viewed 110 times
I was down on the ground to get this one! The galaxy was at 82 degrees altitude up in the sky, and the GEM mounted refractor was pointed nearly straight up. Murky skies from a high moisture content affected the transparency, but the target was still reasonably visible in the small glass.
"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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