Euterpe Occultation - July 29, 2007

This event had a very well defined path, high rank, and the northern limit passed right over our part of Monterey Bay. At a perfect time - 11:15pm on Saturday night. Plan A was to join Chris Angelos at Cabrillo Observatory and he'd help me set up the scopes and equipment. He'd watch visually and I'd try and video record. However, Chris came down with a bug of some sort and bowed out. Also, fog looked to be a sure thing. The marine layer was low however - less than 1000 feet. Karl called and was interested in trying the event, so Plan B evolved: I'd go to the observatory and schlep whatever scope I could muster without weighting my newly resurfaced left hip. That turned out to be the 8" f/10 Meade. Then, head up to Karl's for one of our "movie night" get-together's. Karl, Carla, Garth and I watched "New York Stories" and some of an astro DVD I'd bought. Then, we headed up to the bend in Highland road a mile or so away, and we set up for the event. The star was pretty close to Gamma Capricorn and not hard to find visually. But it was also only 25 degrees from the full moon, and 22 degrees above the horizon. That made for a very bright sky, and the star was isolated too. Try as I might, I could not get the star to show up on the TV monitor, let alone the camcorder LCD screen. The new Kiwi OSD VTI II worked like a champ however, so I had great timing accuracy. But after 15 minutes of repeated attempts to see the star/asteroid blend (m=10.4), I gave up and went visual. Since the magnitude drop was only 0.6, doing it visually was going to be tough. Well, even visually the star was hard to see in the 40mm eyepiece. If I'd given up earlier and tried a higher power eyepiece, the greater contrast against a darker sky would've helped. As it was, I could not tell if the star had actually faded. I think it did, for maybe 3 to 8 seconds or so (centerline duration predicted to be 11 seconds), but I can't swear to it.

So, in the end, I got zippo. Well, not quite - I did snap a nice picture of the moonlit fog covering the Santa Cruz (left) and Scotts Valley (right). Scorpio and Jupiter are above.