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Log, Jul 28, 2001

27 Visitors The temperature started and held in the mid 60s. As this weekend approached, there appeared to be a good chance of another back-to-back clear stretch at FDO. But it was not to be. By 7:30, as Doug arrived to open up, the skies were about 40% obscured by high thin clouds. Still, with the moon at an attractive phase for crater observing, we knew that we'd at least get SOME observing in. The public began arriving by about 7:45, including a guest from the Astronomical Society of New Haven, Leo Taylor, and his wife Elizabeth. They have a Celestron C114 Newtonian (4.5") that is quite interesting - Leo has built a homemade Dobsonian mount into which the C114 optical tube can be cradled. The other option is to mount the tube on a standard equatorial mount and tripod - but Elizabeth likes the portability of the Dob mount and its ease of use. We also welcomed Gary Weston and his wife from Cambridge, MA. Gary has a fine 10" Meade LX200 which he has now brought to FDO several times, enjoying the dark skies along with more and more amateurs with portable equipment. Sorry that we couldn't keep the clouds away, Gary!

It was still broad daylight as Joe Hartley arrived to find many visitors enjoying some very good views of the lunar terminator. The huge crater Maurolycus, 73 miles wide, and 16,700 feet deep, caught everyone's' eyes. The crater has a flat floor highlighted by a central mountain peak with multiple summits. Farther south, Joe spotted the crater Curtius, 60 miles wide and 13,000 feet deep, just catching the sun's rays, with the tip of it's steep central peak just visible. More and more of it became illuminated as everyone enjoyed the view.

With thin clouds spreading, we quickly turned our gaze to Mars. The stable air actually provided the steadiest views of the red planet we've had in weeks. Both polar caps were easily seen, and Doug and Joe commented that the dust storm MAY be easing, as some light shading was beginning to show up on the middle of the planet.

With conditions deteriorating Doug turned the scope to the famous double star Albireo - always a crowd pleaser and easily seen through thin haze. The topaz and sapphire colors were lovely, as usual. A quick scan eastward to check out the globular M15 found it suffering badly from the thickening cloudiness. So back to the moon we went, hoping for some clearing.

But it was not to happen. Art Guarino dropped by for the second night in a row, and Marcie Taylor had also arrived a bit earlier. Everyone chatted at some length with a half dozen or so visitors still on hand - mostly talking about the upcoming Perseid meteor shower. This annual favorite, usually reliable for a fine show, will peak two weekends from now as the moon is waning, so we hope to get some quality observing in at that time. Joe also recounted the amazing experience had by many of us at FDO last November when the Leonids shower reached it's now famous mini-storm peak.

By 10:45 it was obvious that sky conditions were only going to get worse, so the guys reluctantly closed up and headed out of the park just after 11 PM. (Well, Joe and Doug were VERY tired, having pulled an all nighter the evening before - so maybe the clouds were a small blessing in disguise!)

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jul 28, 2001
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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