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Second Trip to Idyllwild


 This year, again, the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference was held at Idyllwild because the smog is so bad at Riverside. The elevation at Idyllwild is between five

and six thousand feet, on the west slope of Mt. San Jacinto (over the mountains from Palm Springs). The skies are quite blue and the weather quite fine. The conference

is held at Isomata, part of the U.S.C. campus in a creek valley, but when we go we set our telescopes up on the ridge at Inspiration Point. From there, on a clear

night in spring, you can see Omega Centauri. From there, on a clear day, you can see the dome of Palomar1 but Los Angeles, like an octopus far below, remains hidden

in its own smog.


In the past the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference has been held in April and the Sidewalk Astronomers have taken it in on our spring tour. We have attended every

Riverside Conference except the first one, six years ago, which took place while we were just being born. This year we couldn't arrange to catch it on a spring tour

(near Easter) because it was scheduled for late May; so we hadn't planned to go. Then, quite unexpectedly, John was asked to speak at the Conference, and Pat Henry

volunteered to take us down in his van; so we went. We took Bruce Sams' 18 incher and Pat bore the expenses of the trip.


We spent the first night at the brand new Buttonwillow rest area. Except for the lights you'd think they might have made it just for us. We had breakfast at Idyllwild

just before the conference began at 1:00 pm Saturday, May 25th. Anne had an infected finger.


We announced our presence, met many old friends, attended the meetings that commenced the conference, met many new friends, missed many old ones, received an assignment

to talk the next day at two, and made arrangements for heating the pitch for pouring a polishing lap. Late in the afternoon, after looking over the telescopes set up

at the conference, we retired to the top of our hill, set up the telescope and dug in for the night.


John then walked down the hill to fill the water bottles, fell into conversation with some Indian Guides and picked up an assignment to entertain one or two hundred

screaming kids and parents from the Indian Guide encampment with a talk on constellations at their campfire,followed by a look through the 18" telescope on the hill.

He didn't get back till long after dark and in the company of perhaps 125 pairs of eyes. Many of them saw Saturn and the moon. A few stayed for Omega Centauri and

M 13. The smog had climbed the hill just after our arrival that afternoon and, in conjunction with the moonlight, fairly well spoiled the seeing conditions in the

early evening except for bright objects. On that first evening M13 was a much better show than Omega Centauri.


After the Indian Guides had retired we had quite a number of astronomers to entertain. There was conspicuous disappointment voiced by the astronomers that we had not brought

the 24, but they said that they'd settle for an 18. Some suggested that the 24 should be subsidized to get it there. Good! We entertained the astronomers and many others

till nearly three and then retired into the jaws of the waiting mosquitoes. The astronomers continued on the telescope till dawn, seeing Jupiter and Venus.


By 5:30 the two of us who slept outside the van were up again to avoid further syphoning off of our body fluids by the mosquitoes. We too saw Jupiter and Venus,

turned the telescope away from the sun and walked down to the conference area and back up the hill. A red line was showing on Anne's infected finger.


We ate, packed the telescope, except for the rocker, and drove down the hill. We heated pitch, poured the 12" lap in front of everybody, showed the colliding galaxy

slides and the telescope making slides, finished the talk to a full and appreciative house, got some advice and left in haste for the Idyllwild Fire Department and thence

to the Hemet Hospital 35 miles away. By now the red line was almost to Anne's elbow.


We got to the hospital after six, had some of Anne's body fluids replaced with some other stuff and drove back to the Conference. There we reported ourselves alive and

possibly well and hastily drove to the hill and set up for the second night.


The second night was clearer so that in spite of the moon Omega Centauri was a good show. Several other telescopes were set up on the hill the second night, including

a 12 incher. That represented a great improvement over the first night when there was only the 18 and a short focus 8. The turbulence was fairly bad through the first

half of the second night but later when the moon retired we had very presentable conditions, much like what we had last year, though this year the cities below us

were not covered by fog.


There we were at last on the top of a mountain again with a good sized telescope, with dark and quiet skies and with people to entertain. There were quite a few

enthusiastic local residents to enjoy the show and quite a few astronomers from the conference. We saw many beautiful things, star clusters in Hercules and Saggitarius

the Veil, the Dumbell, the Swan, the Lagoon and the Trif id (some could see color in the Trif id). Sanford was there and found us a supernova in a galaxy north of Bernice's

Hair. We saw several galaxies M81 and 82 and NGC 4565 which, if you like, forms the hair clip for Bernices hair. 4565 was a good show, easily the best I (John) have

ever seen it in an 18 incher.


We even saw the ink spot in Saggitarius but that view, unfortunately, could not be compared to the view we had of it last year on that super quiet night at Dante's

View through the 24 when the stars were incredibly small and bright against that fabulous darkness. When will it ever happen that the public gets to see those fabulously

beautiful sights from observatories built for them under dark and peaceful skies? When will it ever happen?


That morning we all slept in the van. When we got up Anne's arm was better and we left for home.

Anne's arm is now O.K.