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Log, Jun 15, 2001

46 people. We started the evening looking at Albireo. We suddenly had the computer reboot and the telescope reset. I was afraid that someone had played with the computer software, but in fact the culprit was a malfunction of the APC Uninterruptable Power Supply. The very reason we got the UPS was to protect the electronics against such a surge. Sigh...

After Joe realigned the scope and took the UPS offline we trotted out a whole raft of favorites - The Ring Nebula [M57], M5, M10 and M12. We were waiting on Mars, but while it was clearing a tree, we looked at Pluto. Normally PLuto is hard to find but tonight it formed a "kite" with HD152585 (a bit brighter than 7th magnitude) at the tail and Pluto at the upper tip. I had to play "meanie" and switch to Mars before the Moon made it impossible for us to try for its small moons. Most of the old-timers (and lots of just plain visitors) came to FDO tonight for specifically to see Mars. We will reach opposition (where Earth, Mars and the Sun line up) in the middle of the week bracketed by tonight and next weekend. Mars has moved into one of the starless rifts in the central star cloud where a great amount of dark gas/dust hides the center of the MWG. The only star as bright as its two moons anywhere near by is HD158704 a sixth magnitude star as far from Mars as the Moon is wide. You have to go more than 3 degrees to find a really bright star - Theta Ophiuchii at the third magnitude. What is more the moons were on a direct line with NGC6355 a ninth magnitude globular cluster about 2.25 degrees out. We've seen Phobos before but tonight we got our first glimpse (for sure) of Deimos.

We could see a fair amount of detail on Mars. We saw a large dark region (probably Syrtis Major) near one limb. There were strong hints of the caps. During the night not only the sixteen inch but every one of the seven scopes outside spent time pointing at Mars. We tried various filters. Red was very poor. Orange was quite helpful in seeing the "dark smudge" but personally I thought that the medium blue filters gave the best enhancement.

We switched back to M5 and experimented with the zoom (8 to 24mm) lens. It really does look like a science fiction movie to zoom into the core of a great globular cluster. We were unable to split Arcturus due to atmospheric conditions, but Alpha Herculis split nicely with fine color contrast. M4 was fine despite the Moon. It's V shape was large but not concentrated. We had our first look this season at Neptune which was just a tiny blue dot at 202X.

The Moon, as always, was impressive and very bright! It nearly drowned out M75 which was right near by but nearly invisible. It also washed out the spiral structure in the Whirlpool [M57] but we see both concentrations. Not everything was washed out. M3 was very fine, even with the Moon.

The final trio (Dave, Joe and Doug) left the park at 2:30 AM, wishing that the Moon and clouds would not have interfered. They would have stayed longer! Joe took the APC unit with him for investigation as to its problem. The clouds were a coastal event only. Doug say his trip was clear all the way home, and if it had not been 3:50 when he got in, he might well have set up his C8 in the yard for some more Mars viewing.

For years various members and visitors have written individual log reports about their activities at Frosty Drew Observatory as well as their own observations at home and where have you. We have shared them informally for years as e-mails but they get lost over time and today we institute a new feature in our log book - individual logs.

These logs can be in any format from the most formal to the most idiosyncratic styles. Your editor (Les Coleman) has not edited any notes sent by FDO friends except to add the required "HTML" tags so that they will display correctly. Since most of these e-mails arrive after several days they will NOT be included in our weekly mailing. They will only appear as links at the end of a log entry when they do arrive.

If you wish to submit log entries, please feel free to do so. Send the stuff to me with a Subject of "MyName's Logbook Entry". If this becomes overwhelming, I reserve the right to limit the number and size of the entries. Active member logs will take precedence over visitor logs. I will not publish anything which is blatently commercial or otherwise inappropriate. As an example, praise for a "Smither's 17mm Eyepiece" will almost certainly be acceptable unless something like the following appears:

I love my Smither's 17mm Eyepiece available for $125.00 plus handling from Smither's Eyepiece Corporation, Smithers Lane, Smithersville, IM 99799...

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jun 15, 2001
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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