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Log, Jan 26, 2001

39 people. When Doug and Les arrived, the Sun was still up but we weren't early to catch the Sunset. Earlier in the week we had checked the Dome to find that a large amount of ice and snow had slumped from the Dome in front of the doors and had become a two inch solid sheet of ice. Near the gates, drifts had accumulated which Joe had dug out earlier. The walkway was a treacherous band of ice and snow. fLes had brfught a snow shovel, a flat blade spade and a six and a half foot long crowbar pointed at one end and chisel headed at the other. The ice didn't survive very long to the combined application of the spade and the crowbar. The snow shovel did the rest.

By 5:40, we had the telescope running and we got our first view of the evening, Mercury. It was low on the horizon and danced a bit but the gibbous shape was very clearly visible and the overall color was just faintly pink.

Compared to Mercury's 61% gibbous shape, the Moon was less than a 5% crescent. Four craters were lined along the terminator (Hahn, Gauss, Messala and Struve), just below the rim of Mare Crisium. The central ejecta massif of Messala was high enough that seen edge on (as we did), it rose above the far lighted wall. In Gauss, the bright farther wall reflected light on what would have been the dark nearer wall, causing a ghostly pale wall. Just beyond the tip of the crescent, two mountains whose bases were in complete darkness had the peaks in sunlight. Earthlight illuminated the Sun hidden 95% of the surface. It was an easy task to make out Copernicus, Tycho, Plato and many other features. While we watched the Moon moved away from HD212370, starting barely 4" apart.

Venus was the final western sky target. Les was anxious to try an extremely dark violet filter which had been reported to selectively highlight certain sulfur compounds in Venus' atmosphere. With 96% of the light filtered out, details were just barely visible, as the faintest of faint contrasts. A small oval area near the center of the sunward side was slightly brighter and along the terminator, a dark indentation show the shape of some sort of swirling air currents. Seen through the diagonal. Venus appeared to almost be lying on its side. At 46% illuminated, it was just past "half Venus". The sketch greatly exaggerates the contrasts which we saw.

We used the 19 mm Panoptic eyepiece on Jupiter and Saturn with a great deal of success. Many new visitors got their first view of a really wonderful pair of celestial wonders. We were badly limited by clouds gathering on all sides to a small region overhead. The two great gas giants, Rigel (and its companion which were easy to split) and the always splendid M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion with the Trapezium) were the cycled and recycled images as a larger than usual crowd arrived.

We looked into Eriadnus for a planetary which I think was suggested by Barry - NGC1535. It was very good, but it was just about the last thing we bagged last night as the clouds thickened too much for any more viewing. We left at a relatively early 11:30 PM.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jan 26, 2001
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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