At least the clouds were pretty!
I didn't feel like bringing all of my gear, especially for an iffy forecast, so I planned on using one of the club's telescopes: an 8-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Celestron CG-5 mount. The new camera was one that my astro-friend John had very generously given to me recently: a ZWO ASI294MC Pro. It's the successor to my ASI1600MM Pro, but the color version. I had planned on buying the color version of my monochrome camera at some point for outreach events, transient phenomena (comets, Jupiter shadow transits, etc), and short nights, but now I have one much sooner! It would be a good night to test it anyway since I didn't have a way to mount my guidescope on the C8, so I'd just do short exposures until the cloud situation became unfavorable.
After some potluck dinner (theme: "Pies & Pints," for which I brought an apple pie), the thin crescent moon was setting in the west, and I grabbed some video on it before it dipped below the trees. As I was prepping to move to Jupiter, someone spotted a weather balloon, and I just caught a glimpse of it in our 16-inch Dob! But it had dropped its payload, separated, and deflated before I got my telescope over in its direction. Darn, so close! (And a perfect application for a one-shot color camera!)
I also enjoyed some yummy cake that some of my astro-friends got for me!
Having missed the weather balloon, but it not being quite dark yet, I imaged Jupiter and Saturn. The atmosphere wasn't that great, however, so I'll have to see how those come out.
I didn't end up doing any deep sky imaging, but I did observe a dim M22 globular cluster, as well as M13, through the Dob. I hung around until 11:15 PM, and then packed up and bid farewell to many of my astro-buddies. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but we will be sure to stay in touch on social media. I will miss them all dearly!
It has seriously been one heck of a ride so far. After going it on my own for about 6 months after I got my first telescope in July 2015, a friend in the local astronomy club convinced me to check it out, so I went to a members night with him in February 2016, and joined the club shortly thereafter. It was at that members night that my uncle messaged me asking if I would be interested in his Celestron computerized German equatorial mount and 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, which really upped my game in astrophotography, especially once I figured out how to guide. I also got to use a lot of astronomy club equipment, in addition to the awesome observatory facility we have (and really under-use!). Many of my favorite images were taken on club equipment! Many club members gave me advice, tips, and even equipment, and even more gave me encouragement and friendship. I cannot thank enough the many people in that club who have helped me along the way!
Clear skies, and I hope to catch you at the next star party! (And don't worry, I've already found the astronomy club of the East Bay area!)