On the way down to the Pacheco S.P. on Saturday evening, I looked over toward Fremont Peak and saw that the fog had it surrounded, but the top showed clearly. That's good, looks like everyone will get photonated tonight , I thought.
Set up and started at a bit after 9pm, and the first object of the night? Omega Centauri! the transparency was excellent and so different from the last new moon with the haze from agriburning. The big globular easily resolved, and the big edge on galaxy 5128 above it was good up to 200x. This did mark the limit of the southerly objects from the site, about -47 degrees, when placed in the notch between the hills.
After this, I set about my task of evaluating the 8 to 24mm Televue zoom ep that beckoned from the display at Orion (Cupertino) that afternoon (Hi, Rich!). The zoom is typical televue exterior, the adjust rotation is smooth and solid. I tried it on all the objects viewed during the night and I compared it to some TV and other brands of similar FL. At first use with a deep sky object , the view is very similar at 24mm to that of thier Panoptic or Widefield models of 22 and 24 mm respectively. going down to 12mm, the field narrows and darkens, and requires refocusing about every 4 or so mm. At 12mm it is a good comparison to my Brandon. Going below 12mm something odd happens and I am not clear if this is common to all zoom ep's or just this type (only other one I tried was a borrowed one of Celestron design back in 91'). Starting at 11 mm and down to the highest power at 8mm, the outer 30 percent of the field remained the same darkness as 12mm, but the central portion continued to darken and had great contrast. The entire field at all settings had pinpoint stars to the edges, as good as the average seeing would allow , anyway. The view at 8mm was just a little less sharp than a 9mm Nagler. Looking through the eyelens during the day, at the horizon, the field does see the intrusion of what looks like the field stop from 11mm on down. I found that this could be lived with, and continued. The adjustment was smooth enough that I caught myself using it to fine focus with it, changing power slightly.
As I get more experience with this item, especially now to try it on the Moon, Solar and planets, I'll post more compares. It looks like a keeper.
The night continued with 4361 , a planetary in Corvus, and a nice view of it's outer shell/ring, not often seen. This calls for a detail sketch, and takes about 30 min. On to the eastern sky and the summer items rising, m12,14,27,13,71,and more. Stopped to take a look at a object that was so washed out last month, and re-acquired m51. I had to sketch this, since there was visible detail in the broadest spiral arm, the long one that seems to become the bridge to the companion. There were dozens of fuzzy patches there, m42's en masse'. By the time the drawing neared finish, there were some hints of these details in at least two more of the arms. The companion showed some dark details in it, and was much larger than I remember it.
Viewed to IC 4665 and NGC 6426 in Ophi, before going into Sagittarius to spend the rest of the session. It had started off cool temps, with light breeze, which changed direction about midnight and became very moist. The scope tube was dripping, but the optics stayed clear. The temp got into the 30's by 3 am and that was about it for me. On the way back home, as I passed the Hollister turn off on 152, I noticed how cloudy it was over the peak and the western horizon in general. Hoped that the rest of the TACnicians hadn't been skunked (sounds like they did great).
Plans for a second night were dropped on Sunday, when it looked too cloudy to the south on a satellite image. I had planned to keep Jay company at Fpk had it stayed clear.
A note for any TAC members using Pacheco, do verify with the ranger what the new combination for the gate lock is before staying there. It has been changed from what it had been, and were it not for a stroke of luck, I would have stayed locked in till opening time.