Photo Mini-Trip: July 28, 2004
Shahram and I we game, and I proposed meeting at Cabrillo Observatory as ClearSkyClocks predicted clear skies till midnight. Well, by 7pm it was foggy in Aptos. By 7:30pm it was foggy in Santa Cruz, so Plan B was to rendezvous at "switchback turnout" at the 1500 ft level. This was fogged out as I drove up, and so Plan C was to continue on to Christmas Tree road. I arrived at 9pm and waited for 45 minutes until Shahram arrived, but I worried about the conjunction going into the redwoods prematurely so we continued on to Locatelli Meadow and set up. By 10:20pm we were almost ready to begin photographing... and the fog creeped up the meadow and covered us. At right, we're thoroughly disgusted. Gah! We were at 2200 ft elevation here and there was precious little of Bonny Doon higher than this. But Christmas Tree road was 200 ft higher and we thought this might be enough, so back we went. It was warm and dry here and so we set up yet again.
The comet was easy to see, about 6-7th magnitude and showing a narrow gas tail in the 10". But the globular was tough, given the 90% moon in the east. After much staring, Shahram and I decided it really was there; it's a large globular - 11 arcminutes, but faint - only m=9.1. It'll take some serious PhotoShop'ing to pull this one out. It was midnight before we had the 10" f/4 scope and f/8 guide scope aligned, my OM-1 w/ Fuji 400 at the Newtonian focus and ready to go. We had a little more trouble making sure the aiming was right, and even just being able to verify that NGC 1566 was indeed there. In the end, I had only 7 minutes of exposure before the comet and globular disappeared into the trees. It's on film and will take some time before the roll is finished, developed, scanned, and posted here. For now, at left we're almost packed up and ready to head home.