It ranged from good to not so good throughout the night ( Maybe 6-4 on a scale of 10 ). I have to note the adjustment that a 4 at Eagle bluff would be like a 6 in my back yard and a 6 at Eagle bluff is like an 8 in my back yard—still a pretty good night.
Kirk carpooled with me in the Van and we met Dean there.
It was cold, but not too bad. Not as cold as the lunar eclipse night. For most of the night the seeing made it worth while. Saturn was very nice with the Moons all pulled close in (even Titan). We spent a bit of time observing M35 and a little open cluster hugging up next to it but much farther away. NGC4565, an edge on galaxy that I can't resist looking at every time it's available. I used that to compare two eyepieces that I picked up this winter. One is an Orion edge-on 27mm and another Orion eyepiece (made by Vixen) a 22mm lanthanum. I do like the lanthanum very much and the edge on still has a place next to it, as it gives a slightly larger field of view but has a little too much edge glow for my liking. I also compared them on M104, the Sombrero galaxy. The Vixen did a nicer job here as well, then I put in my 12mm Nagler T4 and I realize how much and why I really love that eyepiece. The Sombrero showed it's dust lanes all the way across and the glow from the core was visible on both sides, I think more so than usual.
I quick tabbed M3 and M13 through the Lanthanum as well.
A thin, localized cloud cover passed over us giving us the opportunity to hop in Dean's van and warm up while he journalized and we put a Planetary Radio podcast on. It didn't take long and the cloud cover passed. From this point on we had varying degrees of clarity.
I continued to compare these eyepieces on galaxies M81 and 82 and the Leo Triplet. M82 was particularly nice as the mottled appearance of the dust was prominent. M51, the whirlpool was nice but definitely not the best I've seen it at Eagle bluff. I could make out some structure in the disk but it just didn't stand out. This was probably due to the sky clarity getting worse. We ended the visual part with a very nice look at the Owl nebula and M108.
Throughout the night we spotted some meteors, Dean being the only one to catch a very nice, long and bright one.
We then got in the big van and warmed up as we discussed the night and some other RAC topics and perused Starry Night software to check a dark spot we thought we saw on Saturn (no idea what it was or if it was). We also used Starry Night to look up some upcoming events like the Moon occulting Venus and on another date the Beehive.
It was a very worth while trip although I was surprised how bad some areas on HWY52 and CR8 were. Most of it was bone dry but it makes for dangerous driving when patches of the road are covered with snow and ice. We drove slow.
I was starving for some deep sky sights, so I'm glad I got them in even though sky-wise it ranked in the bottom third of my Eagle Bluff visits. We'll see what next week brings. Hopefully it has really clear skies, safe roads and brilliant meteors in store for us!