1997 Aug 1

I was at Fremont Peak Friday evening, 1 August 1997, with the six-inch Intes Maksutov. There was no fog in on the coastal plain or in the valleys, so the lights of local cities contributed to sky brightness a fair amount. My galaxy-hunting was unimpeded, though -- a 1.6 mm exit pupil deals well with quite a bit of sky brightness -- and I logged another 63 objects for my Herschel-list survey. I looked at Jupiter twice during the evening, at the start and at about 1 AM, and both times the seeing was fairly soft, perhaps not even as good as we had at Montebello on Wednesday 30 July, though on neither occasion did I look for long enough to see if there were intervals in which it got really steady. Seeing was probably affected by the very light breeze that sprung up half way through the evening.

There were indeed fireworks from the direction of Salinas; at one point they were momentarily by far the brightest contribution to the sky glow. The noise was audible, as well, and thought-provoking for those of us who have been up there when a nearby Earthquake has happened. A few dozen non-astronomical camp guests had walked up the road toward the tip of the peak for a better look at the fireworks. I gave some of them a look at Jupiter as they were coming down.

We had some natural fireworks, too. I saw two or three nice bright meteors -- though nothing like last week's magnificent bolide. The trajectories of two of them suggested that they might be very early Perseids.

Someone I did not know was in Coulter Camp with a Meade 16-inch LX-200. Those things sure are big -- it looked as large and out-of-place as a main battle tank in a supermarket parking lot. I guess they really are portable telescopes, though. Yet I will mention in passing, that both people in that party were in the kind of physical condition you'd expect from someone who went to the gym regularly. The owner said he had had it for two years, and was quite happy with it, except that it was so big he didn't get it out often enough. I believed him. I did not get to look through it, though -- I was set up all by myself in the southwest parking lot.

Jay Reynolds Freeman 1997 Aug 3