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Log, Mar 1, 2002

18 people. The weather forecasts all week predicted rain on Friday but by Friday afternoon the predictions moved the actual rain back until after midnight. A nearly full Moon and a good many clouds as well as high overcast made tonight anything but an astronomer's dream. At best it rated a 3 directly overhead when it was clear there but the horizons never were cloud or overcast free. This meant that two targets Ikeya-Zhang and Mars that people wanted to see were hidden all night. Ernie and Steve kept running outside looking for visible items of interest while Les pointed the scope at the current clear patch.

We had folks from as far away as Chicago. Two brothers got a chance to look through our big scope and to use an Astroscan 2000 themselves. Of course they wanted a telescope from Mom. And as always we gave our standard prescription to use binoculars until the sky is familiar territory before you move on to a telescope.

We cover a lot of bright objects. M42 was acceptable, even though the bright Moon through the haze limited contrast. We turned to various stars in Orion including old man Betelguese, brilliant Rigil (which split nicely) and Alnitak in the Hunter's belt.

We spent a good deal of time looking at Jupiter and Saturn as well as their moons. Io was transiting Jupiter. Strangly the software didn't show an Io transit until Steve noticed that the software had been assuming we were in San Francisco. OOPS! We corrected the longitude and latitude to Charlestown and the transit appeared as predicted. Using software to help people identify various objects of interest is very effective. We could point of where to look for the Red Spot on Jupiter, the Crepe Ring and Cassini's division.

Ernie and Steve tried for the Pup. With Sirius low on the horizon, and a lot of mish mash weather between us and space, not only was the Pup well hidden but Sirius A was acting meaner than a junk yard dog. Can you say "TURBULENCE" boys and girls? It jumped all over the place and was an irregular blotch of various colors.

Finally we gave up and turned the telescope on the Moon. Using eyepiece projection and a flat white sheet, we projected a Moon disk on a sheet of paper fully 8 inchs in diameter. You could clearly see maria and the larger features on our impromptu image. Actually, this type of projection traces it ancestry back to the "camerae obscurae" popular in Europe for painting backgrounds. Even great painters like Rubens are suspected of using this technique for unimportant backgrounds.

Steve and Les were the last ones around and we finally decided to give up about 10 PM. There were still open areas and the temperature was not too cold but it just wasn't worth hassling with tyhe clouds.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Mar 1, 2002
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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