About twelve Santa Fe Stargazers, friends and family met on September 28th, 2019 in the parking lot of the Galisteo Basin Preserve Cowboy Shack Trailhead. Our evening started with a sunset lit view of a mysterious object in the sky to the NE. While this object might have sparked conspiracy theories amongst locals, the Stargazers immediately saw it for what it was: a weather balloon. Jim E. set his scope on it and we saw great views of the sunlit balloon and instrument package while we waited for twilight to fall. A fine sight!
After twilight surveys of Jupiter and Saturn (with some of us muttering about this or that piece of telescope left at home) the group settled into a night of observation. We had a collection of six telescopes and a pair of binoculars between us, and everyone enjoyed sharing the sights. While sky conditions were not perfect, the skies were clear, the winds died down after sunset, and temperatures remained comfortable until about 10:30pm when our toes began to feel the chill. Most of us were packed up by midnight, with Sam F. staying behind to hunt down a few more Herschel 400 objects.
Several members made an attempt to determine observation conditions at the site using the Bortle scale. Without a SQM, it is possible to gauge the scale using general naked eye observations. M33 was just visible to the naked eye, and we judged the sky to be about a 3 on the Bortle scale for that particular night.
Thanks to the Galisteo Basin Preserve for giving us permission to meet at this great site!