Log, Sep 23, 2005

22 people. The session tonight was almost cancelled because of the heavy early cloud cover but we hung in there and the night improved. It never got really good but at time areas of the sky were decently clear. I tried to get a view of Jupiter but it resolutely hid behind the clouds in the northwest. However Venus managed to shine brightly for quite a while in a cloud gap. We had quite a few folks stop by early after some sort of a picnic behind the Nature Center. Most of these folks went away disappointed but a few folks stayed and were rewarded. One couple, from Torrington CT were celebrating an anniversary. They stayed all night and saw just about everything.

Hoping for something a little more interesting than Venus' blank surface, I turned to M13 - the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. I didn't have much hope, but it darted in and out of the haze and gave some fairly decent views. I was thinking of going to the Ring Nebula but it was in a bit of haze so I tried NGC 6210 which is a planetary nebula in Hercules. I didn't expect much but was pleasantly surprised. While small, it definitely showed detail. I started after a series of double stars. The first one we tried was Rho Hercules. It is a fairly easy pair of blue whites. Then I tried the famous double double Epsilon Lyrae. Given the weather I didn't expect much but it split beautifully and stood a 12mm eyepiece with ease. Clear dark lanes were visible between both sets of stars.

I bounced down to M71 in Sagitta which is a nice but relatively small globular cluster. It is an easy jump from Lyrae and is in a constellation that for some reason I rarely visit. Since I had bracketed Albireo, I swung over to it. I still think the contrasting topaz and aquamarine colors are as fine as any pair in the heavens. By now Mars had moved up high enough to see reasonably well. Almost everyone could clearly see the polar snow field, the orange pink northern plains and a band of mountains roughly a third of the way down from the top. Several folks came back for "seconds" on Mars a while later when it climbed up higher out of the thick lower levels of the atmosphere.

We spent a fair amount of time outside looking at the constellations and the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. M31 is ideally placed for viewing with binoculars and we had some folks back who visited us a couple of weeks ago. One gentleman reports that he has taken up pointing out the Great Galaxy in Andromeda to everyone who will go outdoors with him. Sounds like we are developing another fan of the night skies. Well, the more the better!

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Sep 23, 2005
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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