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Log, May 7, 2004

27 people. Only two objects were bright enough to be visible through the cloud deck which covered FDO all night. And it was really sad because we had a half bus load of junior high kids who had been studying astronomy. The wind was high enough that it blew everything around in the dome.

I got to the dome early enough to do most of the setup before people arrived. Brad Brown was there ahead of me and Ernie Evans arrived shortly thereafter. After the appropriate grumbling that the weather forecast predicted transparent skies, we got the telescope pointed at Jupiter. Jupiter put on quite a show tonight with a transit of Io, followed by the shadow of Io. It was very nice to see Io just break the limb of Jupiter with the shadow quite a ways behind. Europa was eclipsed by Jupiter shortly after Io exited the limb. We got a few glimpses of the red spot, but for the most part the cloud deck made Jupiter and everything around it a study in grays.

Venus was a beautiful crescent but relatively dim. While the color loss was not evident it was very apparent that the clouds robbed the planet of its usual dazzling brilliance. It was nice to see that the students understood why Venus had phases like the Moon.

I wanted to do some star hopping but we were horribly limited to about ten stars bright enough to be seen through the haze. Even Mars wasn't bright enough to be seen. We could see the Big Dipper directly over head, Arcturus, Spica, and a few stars in Leo. Even with the aid of the pointer stars we could not make out Polaris.

The new laptop donated by IBM really makes running the Observatory single handed a practical situation. Everything is up on the platform where the observer can manipulate all the controls from a single place.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
May 7, 2004
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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