Tuesday, November 01, 2005

20051031 - Touring the bright stuff - Commentary

Session Name: 20051031.1930

Location: TotL, Central Park, NYC
Site Classification: Urban
Date/time: 31 Oct. 2005, 7:30pm ~ 1:15am

Last night I forgot my watch, this evening I forgot my Palm.

I have become so dependent upon my Palm, primarily for PleiadAtlas for starhopping. I realized I forgot it when I went to reach for it after looking at NGC1502, at the bird's foot* of Kemble's Cascade. I wanted to hop to NGC1501 but forgot which side to hop towards. Well no PleiadAtlas, so I stuck to bright familiar objects, Messier objects, that I know how to starhop with relative ease.

Often I feel as if I observe these same objects time and time again, but I quickly remind myself that I have only observed the skies three times at most and I under appreciate the fact that I can locate these objects pretty easily; but I hunger for detecting and observing new objects as well and developing the sense of ease to locate these.. Actually, this is the beginning of my third season with Fall to Winter skies.

Altogether, it was a successful night where I considered my "game" was good in locating the objects.
Tonight happened to coincide with the assembly of the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York City. It is the official club in this area. None of the team TotL'ers is a members but the AAA knows of our activity in the park. Apparently they have adopted the north side of the Great Lawn to be their observing location after their astronomy class. 10 or more AAA members showed up with two scopes (6" equatorial mounted Newtonian & Tele Vue Pronto) and handheld large bins. My scope, being the largest, became indoctrinated as one available to them. It attracted lines, which quite honestly I wasn't prepared for. I don’t even think anyone announced that Charlie & I are not part of the club and that we happened to be there coincidently.

It was such an awkward position. I am accustomed to treating the public with some views. It’s touch-n-go, as the folks stop take a look, sometimes chat and move on. However, this was an organized event that setup right where I was, and then as the group grew larger over time, the expectation that the 10” was available to them was already established. Even one of the members was offering views through my scope to the others.
There are three things that perturb me: persons asking how much my equipment costs; persons looking down the tube; and, persons inviting people to take a look through my scope. No one was rude, just very crowded. In the moment, I went along by sharing views of the brighter objects. The beginning of the observing session consisted of pointing the Pronto and the Teleport to the same object, providing folks an opportunity to compare-n-contrast the views in small and large optics. Examples of this included: M31/32, M34, M15, and Kemble’s Cascade.

The AAA disembarked from the celestial voyage around 10:30pm, I think, leaving Charlie & I on our own. As they prepared to leave they talked among themselves and said how successful an evening it was! I hope they bring more and bigger equipment than what they came with tonight.

Charlie & I continued to a little past curfew. With a clear night, Mars high in the celestial SW, Saturn rising above the trees to the ENE, and all of Orion cleared of the trees to the ESE, I could have put an all-nighter in. As of late, the cops have been prompt to remind us that the park closes at 1:00am. Tonight, none came by, but the paranoia of that parental reminder persists; enough to have changed my behavior to leave close to curfew. For tonight, at least.

* Charlie's term which describes one end of K.C. where it splits off in two trails.