This evening I did my first "for real" variable star estimate; that is, I went out with no knowledge of the Rho Cas' magnitude or its range (I didn't even look at the range on the chart!). I carefully compared it to the comparison stars, taking care to bring each one to the center of the field of view of my binoculars.
I enjoyed making the estimate. I definitely would like to do more. It is refreshing to be able to stare at perfectly-focused pinpoints of light for a change. :)
I do have a question on the comment codes. I marked my estimate with B and U as it was 1st Quarter moon tonight and there were some high cirrus in the area, although I waited until the cirrus had gotten away from Cassiopeia.
Should one use those comment codes when the sky conditions are that in general, or only if those parameters directly effect the measurement (i.e. the glare of the moon is near the field of view or one is actually looking through thin clouds)?
--Michael in Houston (RMW)