Log, Nov 7, 2003
12 people. Note: Most of this entry was written by Joe Hartley. The last two paragraphs and a two lines elsewhere were tucked in by Les Coleman.After weeks of waiting (and the only clear new moon night in recent memory), we finally got the drive base back from Meade for the 16" LX-200. The scope has been out of commission for more than five weeks. More if you really count how long it has been broken. (Sigh....). We planned to do a two star alignment and to recollimate the optics once it was installed. The optics get out of collimation when the scope is detached no matter how carefully we try to set it down.Thanks to Brian and Sam, there was just enough help to get the scope reassembled in short order.There seems to be no doubt that we remain under the curse of the weather gods, though: no sooner was the scope assembled than high, thin clouds raced in, making an alignment impossible.Still, the evening was a wonderful one, not just for the return of the scope, but also for the return, however briefly, of Les Coleman to FDO. Les has lost quite a bit of weight, but not an ounce of the enthusiasm he brings to teaching people about the wonders of the heavens. He was in fine form, answering all the questions that a visiting family could throw at him.It was a true joy to hear his voice, strong as ever, ringing throughout the dome. It brought a grin to my face that hasn't fully subsided. Les's convalescence continues, and it will still be some months before he can return to FDO on a regular basis, but it was great to have him back for this important evening at FDO.We hope that you managed to see the wonderful display of northern lights generated by the huge sunspot #486-2003 last week. It was one of the twenty all time best auroras in southern New England. Later in the week after the great sunspot was no longer aimed at Earth, it really blew its top generating the ALL TIME greatest coronal mass ejection from the greatest flare ever recorded on the Sun. It was so intense the GOES staellite which monitors the Sun had to shut down after the X-ray level reached X20 - the highest value that astronomers felt the Sun could ever reach theoretically. Well, so much for the theory, all the scientists know for a fact is that it exceeded this value - probably by several factors.We know that it is short notice, but don't forget the eclipse of the Moon which will occur shortly after sundown tommorrow (Saturday 11/8/2003).