5:00 p.m. 10 September 2005 PDT (2005–09–11–0000 UT)
I went to Griffith Observatory (the satellite, since the main grounds are closed for renovation until about May of next year) for my first public star party in a while. I started off with the Sun in my Ranger (the 70 mm refractor) plus the Coronado SM40. Someone else was there with their Coronado PST (a 40 mm H-alpha refractor with a wider passband but also a much lower price—$500 U.S.!), so we did an A/B comparison between the two. As expected, the PST was very nice for the money, with no discernible difference on prominences. The PST had perhaps half the contrast on disc detail as the SM40 did, so that much of the detail seen through SM40 is visible in PST, but with greater difficulty. I really have no good way to quantify that "half," by the way; it's just my own visceral impression, and I may be subconsciously unwilling to give the PST its due, so take that impression with the appropriate grain of salt.
Anyway, the evening in Opus began with Venus, as it was first to pop out in view. The seeing was mediocre, and it was hard to see anything but the phase (there might not have been much to see to begin with). Jupiter was even lower in the sky, and even worse. The Moon was the usual big crowd pleaser, though there was nothing in particular to see this night. There was certainly no question of trying to see the little craterlets in Plato.
Albireo was a good target to share with the crowd, although it was a bit difficult to point at, being so near the zenith. The best show was M27; no one else was pointing at nebulae, possibly because it was getting harder to locate them with the gathering clouds. All the same, the Dumbbell was pretty easily seen with the narrowband filter, and people were all in all darned excited to hear it was put off by a dying star.
Copyright (c) 2005 Brian Tung