Last night (Friday) I set up for the Estrella Mountain Regional Park Star Party. At sunset the sky was pretty clouded over, but Venus was showing through nicely. About 40 hikers made the night hike and arrived around 7:45. The sky had cleared nicely. Venus was brilliant in a 12 mm eyepiece with a moon filter and showed a big crescent. What stole the show was M42. With a 17 mm eyepiece in my 13.1" dob it knocked our socks off. I have never seen it so bright and clear. The nebula was extremely bright and the 4 stars of the Trapezium were rock steady and easily seen. The night sky in that area was the best I have ever seen, extremely transparent and steady. I later swung to the NW to look at M31. It was rather disappointing. There was a huge difference in sky quality from that around Orion. All in all it was a great night and very successful star party. Jeff -- Jeff Hopkins HPO SOFT Counting Photons http://www.hposoft.com/Astro/astro.html Hopkins Phoenix Observatory 7812 West Clayton Drive Phoenix, Arizona 85033-2439 U.S.A. (623)849-5889 (623) 247-1190 (Fax) www.hposoft.com -- See message header for info on list archives or unsubscribing, and please send personal replies to the author, not the list.