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Log, Aug 3, 2007

When I arrived at FDO last night, the Seafood Festival was in full swing. Unlike the Big Apple circus which takes pains to direct its lights away from the Observatory, the lights of the Festival flooded the area last night making it all but impossible to see anything beyond magnitude 3. Someone who had parked down by the Observatory (and probably ate most of his or her meal at the beer tent) backed across the fence, ripping out a large section. Of course this good citizen neglected to report the damage or offer to pay for its reconstruction. Another woman who decided that she wanted to see the Observatory drove across the Children's Play Ground and the Volley Ball Courts to reach the Dome. She ripped up a temporary rope barrier in her escapades, and narrowly missed ripping her tires to shreds where there is a set of railway ties and spikes acting as a curb. She also drove rapidly in an area where there were large numbers of children. If she couldn't see the edge of the road I doubt that would have been seen either. I used civil words when I told her exactly what I thought of her driving but it required a great deal of forbearance on my part not to use some well chosen explicative. Am I annoyed with these few people who destroy property and feel that the fields of the Playground are a suitable place for off road driving simply because they own a SUV? Of course I am annoyed. The Park should be conserved not treated as if they owned the place themselves.

Between the lights of the Seafood Festival flooding the Observatory with light and a layer of adiabatic fog (fog that forms in place as the temperature drops), I could not see at least half the objects I had planned to show this evening. Of the faint fuzzies, only M22 was anywhere near bright enough to present some of it usual glory. M4 was invisible except to a trained eye. Jupiter wasn't bad, and an occultation of Io provided a bit of excitement late in the evening. I got a few people who still were annoyed that Pluto had been demoted to a "dwarf planet". I fail to see how they can assume Pluto is a planet while Eris (30% larger than Pluto) remains an unknown ice ball. However, we have hashed that debate to death.

There is a nice write up by Liz Boardman in the current issue of South County Living about stopping by at FDO on a Friday night. Maybe if we could catch a break on a Friday evening with no Moon, no weather problems and no bright lights shining our way, we could live up to her kind words.

All evening we saw flashes of lightning that turned out to be quite a downpour at the tip of Montauk on Long Island. The humidity became increasingly damp and my car was literally dripping water when I left. All in all a memorable but not totally satisfying evening.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Aug 3, 2007
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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