After scoring successful occultations on my previous two asteroid events, and having just had an exciting graze of Beta Tauri the night before with Allen and Jay, I was psyched to go get this "sure thing" event, even if it required a weekday long drive. David Dunham and his unmanned station was also in town, and several other Bay Area occultation people were arrayed across the path. It looked like no one had claimed the centerline - a long drive for most Bay Area people - so I made a promise to go for it. The path crossed Hwy 25 just a few miles north of the turnoff to Pinnacles National Monument. I know the area well and it looked like I had a lock on a great event. The problem was, I had gotten only 1 hour sleep the night before on Beta Tauri night, and was going to get only another 1-hour before the alarm went off and I drove off for this one. The event was 3:27am early Friday morning, and I packed up the RAV4 after a very hectic first night under the star for Astro 8A class. This was the first return to action of the 10" LX200. I grabbed the 10" box and the video gear, went home for an hour of sleep, and then I was off. The weather was clear in Santa Cruz but foggy as I got to Watsonville and stayed foggy as I drove along the Pajaro River and into San Juan Bautista. I thought I might have to take the Paicines fork out to Panoche Valley but it cleared and I stuck with my original plan. I tried to stay awake by listening to KGO and Ray Taliafero's call-in program as he did his usual Bush-bashing. I was having flashbacks of the Upsilon Gem graze 2 years earlier, driving at the same time to the same location listening to the same eery radio program the night of the Bush re-election. Anyway, I was in fine spirits as I approached Pinnacles...
I found my dirt road pulloff and assembled the 10". Then, things started to come unravelled... I had forgotten that during the many months that the 10" LX200 has been broken that it's visual back and diagonal had migrated into the new 8" LX200GPS's box. I was fine as long as I was on auto-pilot. But now I had to do problem-solving and in my sleep-deprived state this was itself a problem. I found myself stuck in an endless mental loop as I went from my door storage to the 10" box to the video gear box and finding no Meade visual back..and back again... and again... "I need the visual back. I left the visual back at the observatory. I need the visual back. The visual back isn't here. I need... " etc. etc. At 10 minutes till the occultation, I got paniced enough to break out of the sleep deprivation-induced loop. Maybe I could duct-tape the eyepiece into the back hole of the 10"? Duct tape, left home. But ah! I had just bought electrical tape and I remember putting it in the tool box. Yes! I rigged up enough stray accessory pieces with electrical tape to get an eyepiece in. No way I could get the PC164c going, and it was too late for that anyway. But in 10 minutes I was able to electrical-tape up an eyepiece, the finderscope (another casualty), do a 2-star alt-az alignment, find the target star (fortunately very close to Eta Gem and easy to find), get the WWV and tape recorder on, and still have 40 seconds to spare.
The occultation happened as expected, but was longer than expected; 6.74 seconds. Both events were gradual, but looked like diffraction effects and not duplicity. The events lasted 0.2-0.3 seconds to disappear and reappear, I estimate.
Here's the report page.
It turns out the observer fence was spaced beautifully, and a good ellipsoid solution to the asteroid profile for this event is shown below.