The meeting took place in Placentia on 2/16/04 and there were 13 members present. Several of the attendees were new to the now expanded Go-to group. While most in attendance has ETX's ranging from the 70mm to the 105mm, there was representation of Celestron, LX200 and LXD55 models. It was nice to get a slightly different perspective on other go-to telescopes.
After about 30 minutes of general telescope/observing discussion we settled down to the meeting's main topic, What books/charts do we find useful for planning and running our observing sessions. There was almost unanimous agreement that Planispheres, and the charts in Astronomy magazine and Sky and telescope magazine were good for getting in the general area, they were not really suitable for finding the faint fuzzies we all try and look for.
Mary Brown likes "Burnhams" and there was general agreement that this is a very good set of books. It will also help about astronomy. "The night sky" was also mentioned as good for planning observing sessions, but not really to read. "Uranometria 2000" was considered to have excellent maps. Other books mentioned as good were, "Nightwatch", "Turn left at Orion" and "365 Starry nights". Brent Watson's charts were discussed and two of his, "Overlooked Objects", and "Select Double Stars" were passed around for people to check out.
Two other works that we looked at were the "Peterson Field Guide Stars and Planets" and the National Audubon Society's "Field Guide to the Night Sky". Both are useful in different ways. Another book and web site that many of us find very useful. Mike Weasner's Using the Meade ETX and his mighty ETX site (which is also good for other small scope users as well) www.weasner.com/etx. While geared towards the ETX, both have a wealth of information good for almost all small telescopes.
Software was also briefly discussed and the three top programs that people seem to use were
The Sky by software bisque - www.Bisque.com
Cartes Du Ceil - http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/
AstroPlanner - http://www.ilangainc.com/astroplanner/
We then adjourned to the back yard we we did some observing and learning about some scopes. Craig had his ETX 105 w/UHTC set up Greg Freeman had a Celestron Nexstar 114 that Mary Brown was able to help him set it up and use. Glenn hand had his 10" LXD55 Schmidt Newtonian that was having problems with power issues. We looked at Saturn, Jupiter and M42. However observing was frequently interrupted by clouds.