Log, Jul 12, 2002

50 people. Steve and I (Les) agreed to meet early to check out some thunking noises in the altitude worm gear of the telescope. We know what the problem is, a belt slips, causing the spring loaded motor mount to thunk against the body of the telescope. The problem is seasonal but the fix requires a good deal of care because lots of critical tiny parts are involved. You wouldn't think it but that whopping big telescope is moved by a serrated belt that look like a rubber band attached to a motor which doesn't look strong enough to power an electric toothbrush. (Everything depends on very careful balancing.) In summer we need to take up extra slack and in winter we need to relax tension a bit. Tricky stuff for a guy like me whose hands look like the most delicate tool I've ever touched was a brick bat.

Once that was done we did a quick alignment to let people view Venus and deep space objects. All went well until someone knocked out power at the Big Apple Circus [BAC]. Our UPS kept running but eventually ran down and our telescope loss the alignment. So we had to do everything again

Venus was an early mainstay. It is gibbous - about 66% illuminated. The Moon was a beautiful crescent. We looked at the terminator which was bathed in Earthlight reflecting from the Pacific Ocean. It made for quite an interesting sight with the eject mounds in the center of the craters.

Out in the yard and parking lot we had a number of privately owned telescopes. I couldn't see them all but Steve says we had an Celestron 11" Nexstar, a 4" refractor and a 4" Dobs. Steve helped a family with a small inexpensive telescope.

We turned away from the BAC and towards Scorpio and Sagitarrius. We saw M17 [Omega/Swan], M8 Lagoon (adequate contrast but an Oxy-III filter would have helped) M11 lovely as always including the yellow star in the midst of so many blue white stars, M6 (a lovely open cluster), M20 [Triffid - nebulosity was not great], M22, M23 and M24 (two lovely star fields in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy) and M28. We tried unsuccessfully for NGC6818 [Little Gem] but either we pointed wrong or it was too faint to be seen. We also had no luck with a planetary nebula NGC6567 and a globular cluster NGC6544.

As the crowd thinned out those of us who were left began to concentrate on rarer objects. We added nine new items to the FDO Life List (marked with *). The first was NGC6629* a planetary nebula which looked exactly like a fuzzy star. We looked at NGC6530 (open cluster) and NGC6568* (a really lovely open cluster). We tagged NGC6572 (the "blue planetary" nebula) again. We looked at the lovely open cluster NGC6568*.

We decided to go after a variety of double stars. I'll list them with my comments: mu Sagittarius* (4th and 10th mag) both easily visible), 21 Sagittarius* (5th and 7th mag), too close to split (0.5"), HD167863* (7th and 10th mag) very easy split at 54", HD167356* (6th and 12th mag) relatively easy to split but dim star was hard to find against a gorgeous star field, 70 Ophiuchus* was stunning a beautiful white 4th mag paired with a golden 6th mag star, HD165887* (6th and 12th) at 5" separation; dimmer star appeared to be orange but faintness made color dubious,

To wrap up the night we picked NGC6760 a moderately faint globular cluster with little detail, NGC6749* which was exceedingly faint but just visible, and IC4756* which is a very pretty open cluster. Steve and Les were the last to leave and just before closing we both took the Meade LX200 16" for a slow pan down along the Milky Way Galaxy from the Dome Shutter to the horizon. If you ever are at FDO late enough, this is a wonderful experience. We left about 2:25 after closing up.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jul 12, 2002
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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