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Log, Jan 9, 2004

4 people. Well I will admit it was a bit cold (an all time cold record was tied tonight). And it was a bit windy (although rumors that the telescope pads had to be tied down were bit exaggerated). And the Moon was very bright. However it was lovely and clear and the twinkling wasn't too bad except over the ocean waters (Sirius was affected). And Joe and Les weren't the only people who came. Two ladies arrived. Les went into his spiel about the naming of the planets (Uranus and Gaia begat Saturn, Saturn and Gaia begot Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, and Jupiter and many lady goddesses begot Mars, Venus, Mars, Diana (Moon), Apollo (Sun) and many many others. The younger of the ladies seemed to find this talk a bit amusing. And no wonder - she is named for one of these goddesses - Gaia (also called Terra and the Earth).

Seeing was surprisingly good when the target was over land. Saturn was very clear, showing subtle details of the rings. Cassini was clearly black around the entire ring. Encke was not visible, but even some of the more difficult moons was shape. Even the inner moons Mimas, Enceledus and Thethys which often are two close to the rings were clear. As usual, dim distant Phoebe escaped us although I have high hopes of making a positive identification this season. I've seen it in the past but so far it has escaped me this winter.

M42-M43 - the Great Nebula in Orion pair were beautiful. The Trapezium was jewel like when viewed in the 19mm lens. Six stars could be made out without too much difficulty. The cloud itself looked like a huge bird with the Trapezium outlining a head.

We tried to split the Pup from Sirius last night as well. Over the past few years the Pup has been very close to Sirius in its highly eccentric orbit. This means that splitting this pair is very difficult in northern portions of Earth. Compounding the problem is low level of these stars which means that we always have to contend with lots of air which makes Sirius a "jumpy" star to view. None the less, both Joe and Les seemed to see a definite bulge on Sirius which was probably the Pup.

Joe and Les followed Sir Jack Falstaff's famed suggestion to "let discretion be the better part of valor" and both warmed ourselves while waiting for others to arrive (who didn't) and closing early (around 9). It was already in single digits with a wind chill down in the negative teens.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jan 9, 2004
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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