Observation Report 03/15/03 from Coyle Field
It’s been a while since I could write a decent observation report. The last four months or so didn’t have a single decent observation night on the weekend here in N.J. Anyway, last Saturday looked promising so I packed up, called a few club members, posted my intentions to go out on our discussion boards, and headed to Coyle Field. Coyle Field is a great sight. It’s an Army airport and our club members can use the side runway at night. No trees, no lights, right in the middle of the pine barons. Of course there is some sky glow from Atlantic City but what can you do. Naturally, when I got there around 8:00 I was greeted by huge white billowy clouds. They were passing by all night, or at least till 10:30 when we packed up and left.
John arrived earlier before dark and had 2 telescopes set up already, 8” LX90 and an ETX90. Mauro and I didn’t set up. But Ro had a scope she just acquired on permanent loan (I can’t go into what that means, long story). It is an old Clestron 8”SCT with a fork mount and real nice tripod. The scope is maybe 20+ years old and looked like it hasn’t been used in 10 years. First thing I noticed was a rattle in the OTA. Apparently someone dropped the cap from the finder scope into the OTA. I guess there are just 2 ways to get it out. Remove the corrector plate or play with it like one of those “get the balls in the holes” games. “Get the cap down the baffle”! Other than that, it seemed in real good shape. When the clouds opened up for a minute or two the sky was excellent above them. So we did get to test it out. It was still collimated fine. Black circle right in the middle of the donut. Stars looked good, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon were great. We tried a few different eyepieces, 8MM Radian, 9MM Meade super plossl, 25MM something. The 14MM UWA was too heavy. It came with one cracked eyepiece and one good one. The good eyepiece wasn’t bad. 20MM wide-angle maybe 68 degrees it looked like to me. But the coolest thing was the tripod and mount. It had a ¼-20 screw at the top in the middle of a plate maybe 3-4 inches. The fork mount screwed on there. It might be a hard one person set up because you need to line up the small screw and then turn the wheel, which is under the attachment plate. Once in place and tight it was real sturdy. The tripod itself weighed in at maybe 25-30 lbs.There were excellent slow motion controls. No cables with knobs. These were big wheels, maybe 2 1/2 – 3 inches with big handles to turn them. I though it was way superior to any other mount selling today on this size scope. Playing around with this scope made the night a real pleasure.
It was amazing how clear it was above the clouds. As small openings in the clouds appeared, the contrast from almost full clouds to absolutely clear made the Moon so bright it was like, who turned on the lights. But even better than that, here’s something I’ve never seen before. Coyle field is so big and clear, we could see the Moonbeams approaching on the ground. That’s right! Off in the distance, you could see the light on the ground, like a flash light beam coming towards us, pass over us, then leave us. That was so cool. You could tell when they were coming by looking at the sky. When an opening in the clouds was approaching the moon, you could see it approaching on the ground. Amazing! Never saw that before. The sharper the edge of the clouds, the better you could see it on the ground. All night it was, “Here comes another one! Look at this one! There it goes!” I felt like a little kid. But then again, there are those that say I’m just a big kid. We had coffee, donuts, Chicken wings and good conversation. Had a great time under awful skies. I guess you make your own fun!