As I drove up the winding road to Henry Coe State Park, I idly mused upon the subtle beauty of the universe as I contemplated the approaching chlorofluorocarbons ... would it be warmer tonight?. When I arrived at the parking lot, it was filled with friends eager for a night's observing. I counted at least 8 telescopes set up.
I started my night's observing with one of my favorite objects, M 108 in Septans. It seemed just like desert sand.
After a short break to recite my mantra, I hunted for NGC 4996 in Triangulum. It appeared at low power like its Hubble photograph. Then, I went for Abell 29 in Antlia. It would be easy to confuse with diamonds on black velvet. Next, I checked out NGC 3658 in Sculptor. It was a dead ringer for Smokey the Bear. With that checked off my list, I hunted for B 222. It was easy, just like that graph in An Unpleasant Truth. Then, for a real challenge, I tried B 197. It reminded me of one of Martha Stewart's doilies.
After a short break to recite my mantra, I checked off Abell 10. It seemed just like whispy tendrils of nebulosity. Next, I looked for and suspected IC 2571. It was like a little triangle. After I'd spent a few minutes looking at that, I tried NGC 5217 in Serpens. It appeared at low power like Santa Claus. With that checked off my list, I tried for M 99. It looked exactly like fleecy wool. After that, I had a chance to see B 405 in Sagittarius. It looked uncannily like two scoops of spumoni ice cream. With that checked off my list, I hunted M 1. It somewhat resembled ripples of water. With that checked off my list, I nudged my telescope to B 561. It looked exactly like a hamburger. (Hmm, it had been a while since dinner). After that, I found B 66. It looked exactly like blackness. Then, I looked for and suspected NGC 420. It appeared to be blackness. With that checked off my list, I jumped to Abell 45. It shimmered, as if it were a Black Rider hunting for Frodo. Then, for a real challenge, I located Abell 79. It was better than a UFO. After that, I checked off Abell 42. It appeared at low power like a swarm of bees. After I'd spent a few minutes looking at that, I helped a beginner find NGC 2886. It was better than all the other smudges I've ever looked at. Then, I hunted IC 904. It gave the appearance of yet another globular. After I'd spent a few minutes looking at that, I had a chance to see IC 2466. It compared favorably with cotton candy.
Finally, it was time to pack up and leave. As I drove home, I contemplated the events of the night, and realized that any night out under the sky with good friends is better than stacking 400 Mars images by hand.