Log, Dec 17, 2004
20 people (Joe substituting for Les on log duties)The last public night for Frosty Drew Observatory was a cold one, but nice and clear. We were down one staffer, Les, as he was sidelined with a (relatively) minor ailment that did require a little hospitalization for him earlier in the week. He's on the mend, though, and will be back soon, I'm sure!We opened at about 6:45, with folks showing up before Nick and I were fully operational. We had 3 groups of families show up at different times, and with a churn like that, we stayed with some of our favorites.We started with M57, the Ring Nebula, before it set. It was just to the left of Cygnus, which is standing on its nose, about to fly south for the winter. We also took a peek at M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.We went to something different next, M15, the globular cluster off the nose of Pegasus.From there it was over to the moon, which had a great terminator to show off some great features of the crater Copernicus.We spent a while on the moon, and then swung over to the Northeast. I always love seeing M37, with its one yellow star among a sea of blue diamonds. We continued down until we saw Saturn - always a welcome sight. It was still a little low in the sky, and without relying on the computer for confirmation, I believe we saw 5 moons easily.We took a break from the scope, and I got to wield the light saber...er, use the green laser to do the star hopping tour.M42 was up next, with its infant stars, only 1 million years old! There was a discussion going on in the dome about filters, and I took the opportunity to put in the O-III filter, which blocks most light but that from ionized oxygen atoms. This light is very prevalent in emission nebulae like M42, and we spent quite a while here.It was getting cold, and the crowd was thinning out, so only a handful of folks were left when we swung to M82 in Ursa Major, and its companion, M81. I love galaxies - they're just little fuzz balls to the eye, yet there are countless stars in each one of them.By 10 PM the temperature had dropped dramatically, and Nick and I were alone to call it a night. I was pleased that the scope performed well. Other than doing a positional update on Vega, it ran well right from waking up to when we shut back down. (I do sense a work night in the future, though - it's been some time since the scope was collimated, and it shows when trying to get a real sharp focus.) Nick was an enormous help tonight, and I thank him again here for coming down.That wraps up 2004 at FDO. We will be closed the next 2 Fridays, which are Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. We hope to open again January 7, 2005.Happy Holidays to all our friends from the staff of FDO.