This week started with my wife defending her dissertation on Monday. I'm now married to a woman with a PhD in theoretical physics (specifically she does "computational quantum chemistry")! I also had a 12mm Delos arrive on Monday, which is my first "real" eyepiece after having spent the last six months using the 2 GSO EP's that came with my dob. The cloud gods must have smiled on my wife's accomplishment because, despite the new arrival, Monday and Tuesday night were clear and steady. We couldn't get out Monday as we were celebrating with family, friends, and colleagues, but we did last night.
Her parents were here for her defense, and it was their final night in town. I really wanted to at least show them Saturn. Its already behind some trees from our yard at dusk so we packed up the car and drove out to one of my usual observing sites about about 20 minutes away. This turned out to be a great decision. They had never looked through a telescope, and spent enough time oohing and awing at Saturn that it was actually getting pretty dark and I felt bold enough to show them M13 in the twilight. I've got a 2x Barlow, so I could go up to 200x with the new Delos, and M13 was framed perfectly with that combination, just enough FOV to appreciate the density contrast between the cluster and the "empty space" around it.
By now we actually started seeing hints of the milky way appearing, which is pretty fantastic for the site we were at. LP must have been down because it was a Tuesday night? Or maybe it was the noticeable lack of humidity that helped? Whatever the reason, they were having a good enough time that we kept on looking. The hit list included M22, M8, M20, M16, M17, M57, M27, M31 (bathed in the glow right over Rochester), Alberio, an attempt at M51 in which everybody saw the twin cores at least, and finally a return to magnificent M13 now that it was properly dark. We only stayed out until about ten o'clock, as they have an 11 hour drive home today, but I think they really enjoyed the evening!
The news gets even better though folks. Tomorrow my wife and I head west for a celebratory road trip before she starts her post doctoral appointment. We're headed to Wyoming were my family has a cabin in the Medicine Bow National Forest. We'll have 4 nights in a black zone, at 10,000 ft, with a brand new Delos. Right now the Accuweather astronomer's forecast has conditions looking favorable for the last three nights we'll be there. A single clear night will make the drive worth it. If its cloudy the whole time it'll still be ok, there's plenty to do. Growing up in Nebraska, I used to go to the cabin at least once a year. But this will be my first time up there in the last seven years and I'm just happy to finally be headed back.
Any objects I absolutely must try to track down when we're there? I don't have any filters, but I will be trying to see some of the fainter nebulae like the Crescent and the Veil. Mostly I'm excited to see how all the old friends look in truly dark skies. Anyway, I'll bring back a report at the end of next week. Thanks for reading!