Log, Jun 16, 2006

23 people. Something truly weird happened this Friday evening - it didn't cloud over or rain. In fact, while the atmosphere wasn't really supper clear (traces of thin wispy cirrus) and a bit unstable, it sure beat anything in the last few months. I was glad because a troop of Girl Scouts was planning to visit and I hate to disappoint kids. There is only so much I can do by showing them a telescope rather than the sky. One of the things about a long siege of rained out Fridays is that the sky seems to jump from where you saw it last. I noticed this when I could clearly see the entire dipper of Ursa Major in the shutter opening when the scope was pointed just north of west.

"And why was the scope pointed just north of west?" you might ask [and if you didn't ask I am going to tell you why anyway]. We were pointed that way because of an extremely interesting quadruple conjunction of Saturn, Mars, Vesta and M44 [Praesepe - the Beehive]. Within the field of view of a pair of binoculars, all these objects were together. Mars and Saturn were particularly prominent, with M44 just barely visible to the naked eye. The asteroid Vesta required the help of the big scope but it was prominent. Later in the evening we also looked at Pallas, another bright and prominent asteroid.

Usually when we have 20 to 30 people, we really have only 5 to 10 people at a time as people come and go. Last night, most of the people stayed most of the time. So getting people through my selection of favorite targets was a bit of a challenge - but one I happily took on. I played a bit of a game with Albireo. I said that it was my favorite star but didn't explain why. I asked the Girl Scouts not to give away the secret when they saw the beautiful pair of stars. The colors of topaz and sapphire were truly lovely.

Scorpius was up for the first time this year in the evening. The Teapot in Sagittarius started to rise by closing and of course these constellations mark the best nebulae and clusters of the summer sky. We picked up M4 and M22 easily but the other Messier objects were still in the tree line. We also looked at M56. As always, M57 was exciting.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jun 16, 2006
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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