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Log, Aug 18, 2001

13 people. There undoubtedly have been worse conditions at FDO, and there must have been weirdier glitches with the equipment. But when the conditions were worse I never would have opened and if anything had been more strange in the behavior of the equipment, I would have been totally stymied.

Actually, there was nothing wrong with the equipment except a TYPO. Yup, an old fashioned TYPO. I typed in tonight's date as August 18, 20001. In the intervening extra 18 millenia or so, the planets have moved elsewhere and the poles of the Earth have precessed a great deal moving the star every which way. Needless to say, the telescope went every which way but where I wanted it to go. The famous 15 degree error we had by specifying the time zone wrong had nothing on an 18 millenia error in the date.

The weather was something else. Clouds built up, raced across the sky and disapated at an infuriating rate. Art and I kept moving the dome, turning the telescope and getting something in the eyepiece just in time for the clouds to obscure that part of the sky. For a while a clear gap was overhead, but dew was falling so fast that I did not dare open the zenith trap.

Oh, we got a paltry few targets. Mars (blurry), Alcor and Mizar (fine until the clouds blocked them) Delta Ophiuchus (a star with little going for it except it was in a clear area) plus a large number of unknown dim background stars located in places where intended targets will be in 20001. Without doubt the single most frustrating part was a large gathering of people when the sky suddenly cleared totally just after we had first shut down. By the time we were up and running again, everything socked in. After showing some stuff on the computer Art and I closed for good at 10:35.

Art and I composed a mythological log for the night. Although cloudy everywhere else, a strange weather vortex kept a clear sky over Ninigret. We planed to claim brilliantly clear stars (at least a 2 and probably a 1 on the Bortle Scale), details on Mars you could only get from Mariner, deep space objects to the 17th magnitude and low contrast DSOs like the California Nebula outlined in glorious pastels and primary colors. We can dream can't we? We certainly couldn't see anything.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Aug 18, 2001
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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