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Log, Sep 28, 2001

4 people. The forecast was for a 50% chance of thundershowers, but FDO remained clear from sunset until about 8:45. Except for a fifteen minute period near the end when three people visited, I had the 16" scope to myself and I made the most of it. Two of the three visitors were from Piscataway NJ and it was their first time at the eyepiece of a big telescope. By this time only the north was reliabaly clear, so I trotted out Alcor and Mizar, M81, M82 and M101. This late in the evening, seeing was poor and each of these old favorites rapidly deteriorated into Smudges of the week.

I started with the Moon while the sky was still bright blue. I used the 40MM eyepiece and was quite pleased with the image. Soon however I trotted out the polarizing filter because my eye was being dazzled. Mars was quite clear. The gibbous shape was very prominent. I could make out the polar caps and Syrtis Major when the sky stablized. I could not see either Deimos or Phobos. I spent a good deal of time in Sagittarius until a cloud bank forced me to seek elsewhere. I managed to get a good view of M7, but the diffuse nebulae M20 (Triffid) and M8 (Lagoon) were very pallid and almost invisible. I went to Epsilon Sagittarii (Kaus Austrailia) hoping to split it when fast moving clouds swept accross the field.

Flashes of lightning were evident to the far southwest. I suspect that a storm was active between Misquamicut and Montawk Point. I could hear distant rumbles now and then but very long after the flash. What made viewing all but impossible was that two cloud decks were moving. The upper deck moved relatively slowly from south to north. It was quite solid. A lower deck moved with great speed covering the distance across the sky in minutes. It moved northest to southwest. After futily moving the scope where I expected a clear patch, I finally gave up at about 8:45.

Hope next week is better. See you then if it is.

-Les Coleman

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