This week I stayed at Crow Butte State Park in eastern Washington.† I arrived Monday May 10 and will be staying until Saturday May 15.† I chose this site at the recommendation of a non-astronomer friend who suggested it was very dark.
Yesterday, May 10, was cloudy and with one good rain shower in the afternoon.† I noticed as the evening wore on that the clouds were rising and breaking up.† I had hopes that I would be able to set up the scope but the sky was still very cloudy with sucker holes at 10:30PM so I gave up for that night.† I had the rest of the week with an improving weather forecast.
I probably should have stayed up because the day dawned bright and sunny with not a cloud to be seen.
Anyway, the day slowly passed and the sky was amazing.† No clouds at all and incredibly open horizons.† The only issue was the wind which built up to a steady 25MPH during the day.† About 7:30PM the clouds started building again as the winds subsided down to a much more tolerable 8-12MPH.† I was not happy with the clouds but decided to play the waiting game.† Venus came out and was blinding in the western sky.† Saturn was visible but the clouds quickly obscured it.† I went into the trailer at about 9:30 and was considering that I had been defeated again.† At 10:00 I went outside and I couldnít believe it.† The clouds seemed to have evaporated!† I rushed to the scope and started looking around.† With a huge grin on my face I was easily able to find Mars, Saturn, M35, M36, M44, M105, M96, M66, M104, M82, M81, M99, M51, M13, and M3.
There were two sights that were exceptional tonight.† The first was FINALLY locating M51 and the second was framing M81 and M82 in the same eyepiece (Vixen 40mm NLV Lanthanum).† Behind that M3 and M13 were spectacular.† I was able to try out my new Orion Stratus 13mm and I can say I will be ordering the rest of the series as money becomes available (ha!).
My viewing tonight seemed to be ďLetís see how many objects I can seeĒ rather than really taking deep looks.† I will be concentrating on that as the week goes on.† I was just so excited to have the scope out that I couldnít help myself.
About 11:45PM the clouds started coming back in from the north and the winds started picking up. I was getting somewhat uncomfortable with the stars jumping around in the scope from the wind so I decided it was a good time to pack it in.† As I got everything stowed I looked up and noticed the clouds were winning so, at the time, I thought it was a good decision.† Then I got up at 3:00AM to use the facilities and looked up.† If 11:00PM was beautiful, 3:00PM was nearly beyond words.† The skies were so clear and crisp.† The Milky Way was clearly visible.
Okay, lesson learned.† Tomorrow night Iím staying up all night to wait it out.† I donít have to work and itís the reason I came out here so I have no excuses!