On Friday, February 15th, 2013 I set up in the backyard since the waxing crescent moon was up and going to a dark site would be mute. Also that evening my friend Mat had two friends and fellow ATMers Jeff Baldwin and if I remember right Doug Christensen from the Stockton Astronomical Society.  I invited them to the back yard at 7:30 p.m. and I had set up and the scope this evening wouldn't travel completely in altitude. I made a silly mistake when loading the alt bearings on so I had to uninstall and then re-install the scope. I was just finishing as they came. I wanted to put the strings on but one of the turn buckles had fallen off and after searching the grass, we decided to leave them off. I collimated using the Howie Glatter 2 inch laser and Tu-Blug.  The scope was collimated and I invited Mat, Jeff and Doug to use the scope. I had to find the missing turn buckle and had a feeling it had fallen off in the office where I store the scope. Sure enough it was there but we left the strings off since it would require a new collimation (personally I would have put them on and re-collimated as the scope needs them or the collimation shifts slightly).

After this we each took turns finding objects and then looking. Jeff used the scope the most I think at my invitation. We spent our time on mostly eye candy materials, and not in any particular order here are some of the objects we observed. There was M103, M35 & NGC 2158, M42, NGC 884 and 869 the Double Cluster, M41, M50, NGC 2392 PN the Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2169, M78 that was not very good when we viewed it and M81 and M82.  To end the night we looked at Regulus and Eta Leonis doubles in Leo.

Jeff and Doug had traveled all night from the Stockton CA area (Lathrop CA) and were tired so around  10:20p.m. they with Mat drove back to Mat's to sleep since they had a weekend working on mirrors and testing mirrors etc.  Mat asked if I wanted help breaking down but I didn't because I had my own agenda for after they left. After they left I want to my favorite open cluster NGC 2362. It has been a couple of years since I have sketched this and so I decided to sketch it. I am going to post my sketch here but I will re-post it as I took out the glare I had tried to put in and just put Tau back in. I like it better like that. Here is Tau Canis Majoris or NGC 2362.  You can see my other sketches of this cluster at this link.

After I got done with sketching NGC 2362 I went back to NGC 2392 or the Eskimo Nebula and sketched. Man, I can tell I am out of practice with sketching! I like the color (I used color pastels here) and I got parts of the outer shell captured well but the inner ring is too wide.  Now I have something else to work on again. Man, I hate the weather which makes it impossible to observe. Go figure, the last 3 nights including tonight have been clear and wonderful. The issue is the waxing crescent moon that continues to throw light up. I guess I should set up around 12:00 a.m. and observe from 1:00a.m. to dawn to do spring objects. I am so out of shape in observing and sketching . . . All I can say is I have really hated the last 3 plus months in terms of the sky.

NGC 2392 The Eskimo Nebula or PN in Gemni.

The last object that I was able to get was NGC 2217 a Spiral Galaxy in Canis Major.  The central region and core of this galaxy is oval shape and very evident in the eyepiece. Man, I blew the oval shape on this one so back to practicing I guess. I also with the wonderful contrast of my 14 inch Zambuto mirror was able to grasp what I felt were a couple of wisps on the brighter part of the outer ring of this galaxy.  I tied to capture that in sketch.

 So there you have it. A fun night, a good night, and one where I got to practice sketching from the right side since I moved my focuser and finders to that side since I am left eye dominant.  That and not sketching for 3 months made me rusty in terms of sketching and I rushed which I feel is reflected in my sketches.  So there you have it. Glad I got some time in even if the moon was up. Oh yeah, we looked at the moon also. Perhaps its time for me to really start sketching the moon since it is so clear when it is up; well at least until Wednesday when the next major snow store arrives.