I kept getting notifications about HST rising, Iridium flare, etc, but was clouded out last night. Oh well...
Only clear night recently was Friday night. Didn't stay out very long though...too frustrated. I have my encoders installed on my XT10i new base so that helps a little with the light pollution (and the darn bright moon!). Either my atmosphere was boiling or I had a lot of tube currents which is where the frustration came from. I did look at the moon through my polaring filter for a bit. Also went to a boiling mess of Jupiter for a bit. I tried checking out a couple double star systems and M13. I love M13, but not with the seeing I was facing and the moon being so close to it in the sky.
On Saturday morning I decided to get the rest of the parts I needed to connect the fan I bought earlier in the week. I went to the local electronics store and bought a 12v SLA battery, connectors, a 12v-5v transformer for my RS232 wireless adapter I use to connect my telescope to Sky Safari on my phone. I spent about an hour wiring and testing all of this. It all works, but now I need to get an enclosure so I can add a potentiometer for the fan control and an on/off for the fan.
It looks like it might be clearing up after last nights rain...keeping my fingers crossed.
My son just asked me when are we going to take the telescope to the desert. It reminded me of the first time I went out to really dark skies with a telescope. It was back in February 2012 near Desert Center, CA. It was a dark gray site back then, not sure what it is now, but I'd have to assume pretty much the same. I believe there was only a partial moon that set shortly after we got there. Here's the report from that night in case anyone is interested:
"So, I recently bought a XT10i for myself and two boys (ages 10 & 12). Before this we had a Celestron SLT 130, which we had quite a bit of fun with from our white zone light polluted skies. Even though we've had a telescope for 2 years, I still would consider myself a beginner.
I've been wanting to get to a dark sky site for a while now. I finally had a chance last night. We decided on Red Cloud Mine Rd. which is just west of Desert Center, CA. Nice and dark, especially after the moon went below the horizon. I've never had the opportunity to observe from a dark site with a telescope. I did observe with binoculars a couple years ago from Big River, CA though. One word...WOW! I kept calling my dad and my older son (my younger son didn't want to go) over to have a look in the eyepiece and I can say that they were amazed too.
I started with M42. At home I can see just the central part with my 20mm Meade 5000 SWA eyepiece. Last night it filled up the eyepiece! Went to Canis Major to check out M41. Very impressive. I decided to just move the scope around a bit while still in Canis Major...the entire area seemed looked like one huge field of stars.
Ok, so now I wanted to see some DSOs that I either can't see or are very hard to see from home...galaxy time! I pulled out my copy of the Pocket Sky Atlas and jumped to the page(s) for Ursa Major. M81/M82 up first...they both fit within the FOV of the 20mm. Amazing. Then NGC3348, NGC3147, NGC2985, NGC2787, NGC2976, NGC3077, NGC3738, NGC3756, NGC3729, NGC3718, NGC3631, M108, M97 (I know, not a galaxy, but really cool), M106, M94, M101. Then my favorite object of the night M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy. Using averted vision I could make out some of the structure. Then M63, NGC4559, NGC4448, NGC4274, NGC4565, NGC3686, NGC3684, NGC3681, M105, M95, M96, NGC3384, NGC3338. Another favorite from last night came next, Leo's Triplet. Again, I could just fit the three in the FOV of the 20mm.
I plan on going back again next month. Looking at my Pocket Sky Atlas I think I'll check out the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. I do plan on keeping a more detailed Observation Log for that trip. Between now and then I'll probably invest in an eyepiece or two. Thinking about something a little wider with more FOV and something in the 10mm size with a decent FOV.
Ok, off to the Eyepiece forum."
I did go back again after that trip and on that very next trip I saw Omega Centauri just above the horizon. I still remember how awed I was seeing all those stars. I'll have to find my notes from that trip, but I also remember being completely overwhelmed seeing a group of 7 elliptical galaxies in my FOV and thinking how many stars and star systems were in that FOV. I also had the thought of "how many eyes are looking back at me?" I often think about that when observing. Even just looking at an individual star and wondering if there is intelligent life in that star system.