Log, Apr 20, 2007

14 people. The weather forecast for astronomers put out by the Canadian Weather Service suggested nearly ideal conditions for viewing along coastal New England. [The US Weather Service does not provide any such information]. However the air was relatively unstable throughout the session. It was lovely and mild in the early evening but grew quite chilly as the night worse on.

We had a number of old favorites on view (M42, the great creators near the Moon's terminator, Saturn and at least 6 moons with an in and out Cassini's Division. The Crepe ring was also visible. I showed the folk the great super giant galaxy Virgo A (also known as Messier 87 / M87]. Nearby we looked at the cluster of galaxies around M86. This is the area that a friend called a region where you couldn't swing a dead cat without knocking into a galaxy. Four galaxies were easily seen in the eyepiece at one time (and two others were just at the edge of visibility). We looked at the Sombrero [M104] for the first time this year. We tried to point the scope at M51 [The Whirlpool] but it was too high for an alti-azimuth telescope to point towards. Later in the night, while Ernie and I were having a bit of private viewing time we even picked up some favorites we normally don't see for months. The Great Hercules Cluster [M13] was lovely (as usual). Then Ernie suggested a nearby galaxy which I h d never even heard of. And in a low power eyepiece it can be seen with M13. It is NGC 6207, and marks yet another notch on the 16" scope's life list [along with a guy who should have seen it years ago]. Nice call Ernie.

You will be seeing some changes in the Frosty Drew Website over the next week or two. The Nature Center will be getting a few changes - primarily Adobe files [PDFs] which will have forms for the summer programs.

The other changes represent changes in how the Observatory will be running. As soon as we can find a replacement for me [Les Coleman] as the Director of the Observatory, I will be moving to a less demanding job as the Sky Theater presenter/commentator. Oh I won't be ignoring Friday nights entirely by any means. Rather than making all the blow by blow decisions about opening on Friday and spending darkness to midnight at FDO very clear Friday, I will show up after the scope is running, do star hopping with the crowds, make my usual load and boisterous comments and then leave before I fall asleep. These reflect a desire on my part to make effective use of the Sky Theater, the need for a inside and outside astronomer to run Friday night (and the Sky Theater for some situations) and my own physical condition.

We will be putting out "feelers" for someone who really is serious about becoming the next director of Frosty Drew Observatory. Whoever this person will be, he or she will be the real head of the place, not a stand in for an old warhorse such as myself. Over time I suspect that he or she will put a stamp on the place much as Bill Penhallow did by opening the Observatory, as happened during the shorter durations of Art Guarino, Dave Etris and Joe Hartley and my own two periods when we upgraded the facilities for a new telescope and started the Sky Theater.

Should anyone think that they might be a tentative next head of FDO, I for one would welcome their interest. The work entails running the equipment on Friday night, interacting with the public, and having a reasonable understanding of not only the stars and planets but the general science of astronomy. Someone once said 90% of everything is just showing up. This will certainly be true of being FDO's new head.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Apr 20, 2007
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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