A Well Rounded Night

Pacheco State Park, 1997 Nov 1

I went out to Pacheco Park for the first time on Saturday night, November 1-2. I found the location to be better than Fremont Peak in terms of light pollution, and perhaps a little worse in terms of wind and steadiness. There was a lot of good company at the site, but not nearly as many "regulars" as one sees at the Peak.

The lack of steadiness is probably common there, as the location is at the intersection of two otherwise-separate air masses - the valley of silicon and garlic, and the central valley. The only other issue I had with the location was the local insect population; even in the cool breeze, even at 3am, the mosquitos were relentless!

I had a casual, "well rounded" night of observing which included some deep-sky objects, the bright planets (at low-but-still-jiggly powers), some wide-field "bino surfing", a few satellite passes, and some meteor gawking. And of course the usual periods of group socializing!

An Iridium satellite produced a bright flare-up/glint as had been predicted for the location. It was VERY BRIGHT and quite spectacular!

Meteors were great in number that night, many of which were bluish-green and fiery. These appeared to be coming from a new stream that had been predicted in Cygnus for this date.

Around 2am I decided to count stars in the Pleides. After 10 minutes of scrutinizing the area, I had come up with 14 "certain" and one suspected! So I drew a map of what I was seeing, and consulted an HB atlas. All of them were real, including the 15th; about 6 of them were in the mag 7 range.

I finally packed up and went to sleep around 4am, after 10+ hours of observing. "Winter" certainly has its advantages.

Over all, it was a night I wouldn't mind repeating sometime!

Mark Taylor 1997 Nov 3