I spent most of Friday night and some of Saturday morning observing from one of the best "nearby" (a mere hour and a half drive from my residence) dark sky sites. On the final leg of the journey my significant other and I stopped for a few minutes to view the close pairing of Venus and Mars through her Celestron Ultima 10x50's and then drove up Little Knob to Camp Site 52. Tony Donnangelo, a fellow
ASH member, was already observing with his 10" LX6 Meade SCT when we arrived.
The night began with fair seeing and good transparency - a visual limiting magnitude of perhaps a shade above 6.0. This was all to change with the passage of time unfortunately.
Before too long I had my 101mm f/5.4 Tele Vue Genesis sdf refractor set up and trained on Jupiter at 193x (7mm Nagler type 1 and 2.5x Powermate). My next targets were M81 and M82. Both galaxies were easily visible through my 19mm Tele Vue Panoptic (28x).
I followed with Comet Ikeya-Zhang, which was to the east of the fine globular cluster M92 in Hercules. The 60x view with Tony's new 9mm Nagler type 6 was superb. I was to revisit the comet a number of times throughout the night and as it climbed towards the zenith its coma was clearly asymetrical although I could never quite convince myself that I could see a tail.
During the course of the night I observed quite a few deep-sky objects with the aid of only 4 inches of ground and polished glass. These included M101, M5, M13, M104, M65, M66, Gamma Leonis, M87 and other Virgo and Coma Cluster galaxies, M3, Cor Caroli, IC 4665, Antares B, M4, M8, M11, and V Aquilae.
Through Tony's telescope I saw M51, NGC 4195, M81, M82, NGC 2976, NGC 3077, NGC 3079, M97, M108, M109, M101, M94, M106, NGC 4631, M53, M84, M86, NGC 4435, NGC 4438, M3, and other celestial eye candy using a 40mm Tele Vue Wide Field, 22mm Nagler type 4, and a 17mm Nagler type 4.
The highlights of the night were seeing C/2002 C1 (Ikeya-Zhang) near the zenith through the Genesis sdf and the 10" SCT and viewing the classic elongated edge-on spiral galaxy known as Berenices' Hairclip (NGC 4565) at 28 and 60x through the refractor, as well as the heart of the Virgo Cluster (M84 and M86) and parts of Markarian's Chain at