Log, Apr 5, 2002

14 people. So what else is new? We have scarcely a snowflake all winter, so in April on a night which started as a dark clear cloudless night what sent us scurrying home by 8:15 PM - you betcha - the clouds with their predicted little crystaline hexagons.

Actually the first hour and a half wasn't bad. Joe and Les had their big binoculars on tripods outside the door focus on the trio of Nu-Andromedae, M31 and Comet Ikeya-Zhang. Last night the comet's head, tail and Nu-And were lined up with M31 at right angles. Tonight the comet's head, tail and M31 were lined up and it was Nu-And's turn to be the object at right angles. It is amazing how rapidly comets speed across the sky - a combinationation of their relative nearness and intrisic velocity.

The very first target of the night was Venus which was quite stable and presented an almost full aspect (94%). We moved to Saturn next and had quite a few people looking at the Rings, Cassini's Division, and a half dozen moons. We turned the scope towards the comet and focused in on the head. It looked remarkably like the Eskimo Nebula with a sharp point at the center and a spherical coma. The tail wasn't particularly noticable in the 16" although at least 2 degrees of the tail could be seen in the binoculars. Several people learned the sweeping technique for catching the low contrast tail at beyond one degree from the head. It is amazing how much more contrast your eye picks up when the faint object is swept before your gaze.

Joe turned the 16" towards M37. Perhaps a half dozen people had a chance to see this lovely cluster with its single yellow star mixed in with hundreds of blue stars. Then one young fellow complained he couldn't see anything. I checked and he was right. Clouds had obliterated the cluster. Within another tenb minutes the clouds rushed across the sky finally leaving a tiny porthole through which we could spy Polaris. We waited a short while until we were convinced that clouds were here to stay.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Apr 5, 2002
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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