January 1, 1983
Interesting thoughts during the beginning years of an Astronomy club in Northern Virginia.
1982 was a fine year for NOVAC. Let's begin a year and one month ago. Remember December 13, 1981? I do. NOVAC met at Manassas for an evening to remember. Attending this observation was Nils Thomas, John Huggins, Richard Lawson, Bob Koberg and his kids, David Edwards and Bryan Bloomer. It was so cold and windy we had to upturn the picnic tables to make a windscreen. However, despite the cold we has a fine evening of Geminid tracking. That's right, tracking, absolutely no photography took place if I recall correctly. We all returned to our homes cold, but very happy.
Nearly 7 months past before another get-together. Nils, John, Richard and A.J. Piccillo met for the July lunar eclipse. Boy was that fun. We sat in a Springfield street to watch this fantastic occurrence. There was a camera for each of us, however, out results were disappointing. Never the less we had lawn chairs to relax in, Coke to keep us awake, and WWV to keep us aware of the time and finally no cars to run us over. That was a great observing evening. Twelve days later Nils, John, Richard, and Ian Babcock attended a scheduled NOVAC observation. Highlighting this evening were fine skies, and empty Battlefield Park, and warm weather. The key object of the night was Uranus. A combined effort allowed for the discovery of the planet. A discovery which was especially enjoyed by Nils.
I should mention at this time that there were several Schmidt camera observations scattered throughout the Spring. The first time the Schmidt camera was utilized occurred in March. I don't recall the exact date. Attending were Nils, John, A.J., Richard and Blaine Korcel. The camera was piggy backed to Richard's scope. The negatives from this night are available for use, see Nils. Our technique was refined by mounting the camera directly to the mount and fixing a guide telescope to the camera. The exposures continued to improve though out the year.
The August Persuid special at Manassas was a disappointment because clouds came in and caused us to leave early. Finally, our last successful observation. John, Nils, Richard, Missy McKay, Bill Payne, Ned Fredrickson, and Ken Phillips attended the October 16th session. When we arrived the parking lot was full of cars. The National Capital Astronomers has decided to join us. It was a pleasing evening of going between the telescopes and the sights. The highlight that night was Ned's aid in the finding of M-33 though the use of his Big-Binocs.
All and all this was a great night. Everyone got a view of M-33 through Rich's telescope. After the first sighting of this object there was pure misbelief; Age old National Cap's couldn't believe they were seeing it in a puny six inch telescope. It was a great feeling seeing that we were as good or better than a log of these nationally recognized club members. As for Rich it was an especially important evening, but locating M-33 he had completed the first half of the Messier catalog.
The year was a great one, and we will remember the fun we had at our observations. I hope that everyone is looking forward to another great year of observing. Well, in closing: good luck ahead, read the schedule, and see you at the observations.
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