Observing Report -- March 7, 2015

Last week I went out to Boundary Bay to observe. It had been a beautiful afternoon and evening, but by the time I got out it was hazy as anything. Not fog, but high-up haze. I got there at 8, and stuck it out 'til 9.30. I observed Jupiter some, but it was fuzzy and without detail; I put it down to the haze, or maybe internal reflections in the diagonal. I went home at 9.30.

This week I went out again, but I was accompanied by my oldest son (8 3/4). He'd wanted to come out last week, but I only found out at the last minute. This time we got prepared beforehand: books, blanket and a pillow. (I knew he wanted to stay up late and look through the scope, but I also knew he'd want to go to sleep at some point. We got there at 8pm again, with much better weather (you know, clear).

There was a fair amount of outreach tonight. First was a family of five out to see the stars, and second was a couple out for a walk. They were all pretty stoked to see through the scope. One of the kids really took a shine to my son and declared him his new best friend; I think Arlo was a little relieved when they left.

Between those visits, I figured out what the problem was with my scope: collimation, of course. I haven't collimated it since purchasing it, and the last few times I've had it out I"'e been pretty frustrated with the views. I finally got it done, and WOW what a difference -- Jupiter was actually sharp and detailed and beautiful again. It made me want to call the first family back to show them what they'd missed.

There were ambitions for the night, but fog kept rolling in for a while, dewing the corrector lens (despite the home-made dew heater); the battery on the Magellan ran out and had to be replaced; and the moon was up and nearly full. I tried for M78 (reflection nebula in Orion) and failed, even with an O3 filter; I tried for M79 (glob in Lepus) and failed; I tried for NGC 2207 (galaxy in CMaj) but failed; but I finally got somewhere with M93, OC in CMaj. Got a sketch through the dew; it has a real W-shape. One more Messier...

As for my son: I think he enjoyed it, though I think he would have been happier coming home earlier. I know that a big part of it for him is being out with me and staying up late, rather than the astronomy itself -- but he was happy to see the constellations, and to did seem to have fun.

There's more to write, but that's all I've got strength for now. Another time...