Log, Jan 4, 2002

68 people. Mr. Glenn Dewell contacted us in December about a possible field trip for students from the Bain Middle School in Cranston. We said sure, and sure enough, they came tonight - some 45 of them. We had set up a brief hello and here is what we are going to be doing tonight session in the Nature Center while the FDO staff got telescopes and the dome ready. One thing you can say about most 6th, 7th and 8th graders is that they have boundless energy and enthusiam, but the Bain School Students were also full of questions and were really nice to be around. They sure made the night for me and the other staffers. While Les stalled until we were really ready to go, Doug, Steve, Art, Joe and Ernie were setting up. For the next hour and 45 minutes it was a whirl wind of activity as kids zoomed from one telescope to another. Some participated in a star idenmtification session. As people joined the session late, the same questions came up again and again. I think the most popular one was "What is that bright star over there?" Pretty soon I didn't have to say anything because the crowd would chant "That's Jupiter!".

We had the 16" scope on Jupiter, Saturn and M42 (the Great Nebula in Orion). I had a Questar turned on these same objects, Mars, the Plieades, and the Milky Way. Many of the students were hoping that the small size of the Questar indicated a small cost. [Questars have many fine attributes, but low cost isn't one of them.] One Bain MS student had brought a 60mm telescope. We had a little problem extending one of the legs of the tripod. In the dark without tools, we couldn't free the leg, but she made do simply by leaving the telescope at the minimum height.

Thinking about the school session, it is obvious how useful the Sky Theater would be with such a group. Jupiter occulted bothe Ganymede and Io. Only a single person at a time could watch either moon disappear (and later reappear). Projecting these events in the Sky Theater would allow everyone the privilege. One of the teachers accompanying the students asked if we ever gave daytime road trips to schools. I explained that with the Sky Theater, we would be able to present daytime sessions. With the equipment available, such a show would be superior to anything we could bring to a school. The asteroid 2001YB5 was passing within twice the Moon's orbit this weekend. On a small laptop I was not able to show the track of the asteroid to anyone beyond the front seats. Showing this followed by a picture of Uplift Dome and Barringer Crater in the southwest would allow us to give an immediacy to what was occuring.

Although the "Clear Sky Clock" indicated a clear night all night, and although the night started very well, enough cloud cover developed that we could not see much of anything by 8:30-9:00 PM. Even earlier, the sky to the north east was brightly lit as the cities of Providence, Warwick and Cranston reflected on the gathering clouds. After the Bain students had left, we stood around with other visitors grumbling and trying as best we could to see something. It was largely in vain.

While we waited, hoping to have the clouds clear, we adjurned to the Nature Center. Ernie Evans had brought his pictures of meteors taken during our Leonid Meteor Shower evening. Ernie use the star streaming technique. A few of the pictures were void of meteors, but most showed 2 to 5 meteors. In one case, Ernie had traced the constellations and projected the radiant backwards towards Gamma Leonis.

I'd like to suggest that anyone who is interested in meteors take a look at the following link which contains notes from the North American Meteor Network [NAMN]

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jan 4, 2002
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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