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Log, Feb 14, 2003

4 people. Actually the number of people should be 7 because 3 police came by. I managed to set the alarm off trying to open the door and Charlestown's police were there in a short time. I am (1) happy the police responded so quickly and (2) annoyed that I caused them to check a false alarm. I apologized then and now. Last year Art donated a heavy shovel for snow (good idea). We leave it at FDO so we won't forget it if we need it (good idea). We store it inside (not so good an idea as it turns out). I opened the Observatory door, but it caught on some ice, shovel inside, alarm counting down from 45 seconds, and Les looking silly. Shutting the door won't help because the alarm will go off anyway. I kicked at the ice clump (luckily I had my industrial strength clod hoppers on) until I get inside. I can't get into the Nature Center in time either to phone the people to turn off the alarm. C'est la vie.

About this time the cold caused my eyeglasses to pop their lenses when the frame contracted. My eyes are not particularly acute without them. Grumble, grumble and various curses in obscure dialects followed as I tried to push them back into the frame wearing fleece lined mittens in moonlight. To getting an equivalent effect I suggest tying shoelaces while wearing boxing gloves by candlelight.

I rotated the dome completely to make sure it wouldn't freeze in an open position before the shutter was in the wrong direction. No problems. I opened the shutter. No problems but weird metallic clangs, twangs and kalumphs. Definitely science fiction background stuff. After the freeze up problems of three weeks ago, I didn't dare turn on the computer. However the telescope worked well except that the hand paddle needed to be stored inside my coat to warm up before the liquid crystals would display letters and numbers (liquid is the operative word - solid crystals don't work). The scope worked beautifully. It even maintained an acceptable two star alignment. I turned to Jupiter and waited for visitors - and waited and waited. I started to look at various things for myself when I heard a car coming. I pushed the correct buttons to move back to Jupiter but hit the Enter button twice. This tells the scope that where I have the scope presently is where Jupiter is. NOooo....! I was at the time somewhere between M42 and Jupiter and panning.

So my first visitor arrived to see me doing a 2 star alignment. Actually, he seemed to think this was interesting and soon had me talking about various coordinate systems (Alt-azimuth, equatorial and ecliptic). He had come simply to retrieve some hats his family had left last time, but we spent quite a bit of time on subjects ranging from navigation, to sextants to the orbit of the moon.

We were thinking of taking a break over at the Nature Center when a young couple from East Providence arrived. They are new to the area and came down to see what the Observatory was about. I trotted out the best of view (such notables as Jupiter, some nice double stars and the Great Nebula in Orion. We did some star hopping outside. They wore a fair amount of warm cloth but I was wearing an exorbitant amount. Exorbitant is better. The temperature by our thermometer was 11 degrees Fahrenheit. They seemed to be getting cold but I stayed warm.

I waited a bit after that looking at this and that. The sky was so so with bouts of quick moving clouds and a lot of reflected sky shine from the Moon on the snow. Between 10 and 11 I decided that no one else was coming and that I was getting a bit cold on my face - the only part of me exposed to the weather. I went home feeling fine. I really do like coming down to FDO even in the most extreme cold weather. Hope to see many of you soon.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Feb 14, 2003
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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