Log, Dec 8, 2006

38 people. I am well aware that the Sun has not reached its northern limit in its yearly progress but old man Winter attacked one and all at Frosty Drew last night. I was dressed in what I was sure would be excessive layers and I was heartily glad for every single layer. Even at that, I probably could have replaced one of my pairs of socks with some heavy rag sox. My toes got a case of chilly even through multiple layers.

I wasn't the only one who was cold. When I tried to lift the shutter, there was a sharp cracking sound and a shower of ice particles from where water had frozen in the track. The telescope made various protesting sounds as if slewed from one position to another. The telescope "thinks" that if it signaled the motors to make so many turns that they did in fact turn that many times. However when the telescope "sticks" a bit 52 turns may end up 50 or 51 turns. Over the evening, the pointing became slightly worse. Tracking was good however so I didn't do anything to redo the star alignment.

We had a good number of folks stayed a long time. I was both surprised and pleased that they stayed so long in the dome in spite of the cold. I told one group of people to crowd around the base of the platform where I was standing to make sure their body warmth kept my toes comfy. I explained that during Spring and Summer, I would have them stand around me in concentric circles to act as a mosquito barrier. They laughed but little do they know!

I went through the usual explanations that a cold clear night was not necessarily the best viewing. Last night was no exception particularly out over the ocean. Sirius not only twinkled but diffracted into many colors. It wasn't until objects got very high and well over land that they had reasonable stability. Viewing was adequate until the Moon rose. We looked at M1, M13, M35, M36, M37, M42, M43, M57, Albireo, the double-double in Lyra and that big shinning thing with lots of pock marks - the Moon. I don't usually do M1, but a visitor really wanted to see it, so after warnings that it was a low contrast object, I slewed the scope to it. It was quite visible but not very exciting. However the open clusters [M35-M37] were beautiful even when the Moon came out.

The Trapezium showed five stars last night with some people (not including me) seeing glimpses of the sixth star. Ernie came up with the coordinates of an asteroid so we made a try for it. The scope was cold and balky by this time and I wasn't sure we were exactly on it. We saw three grayish "stars" at about the right magnitude. One of them may have been the asteroid but we didn't watch long enough to see if we could discern movement.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Dec 8, 2006
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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