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Log, Aug 24, 2007

60 people. Well, tonight was win some, break even on some and lose some at Frosty Drew.

In the clear win some category, was the new software package and computer upgrades that I tried out with the big scope last night. I included many security upgrades which will allow Windows to WiFi safely from the Dome to the Sky Theater when we get it going. I also replaced a "buggy" driver (those pieces of software which connect a PC to a device). This driver connects the PC to the computer in the base of the Meade Telescope. The old software crashed all the time if you tried to point and click to a moon, planet, asteroid or comet. It wasn't the actual software that simulates the sky but the connector software which had the bug. Originally the Meade interface was designed to have a cable to a type of electronic interface called a SCSI. This was fine in the big towers units but PCs replace the SCSI interface with the more compact USB interface.

The break even category was viewing. There was lots of moisture and a very bright moon. Visibility was down to about the 7th magnitude for extended objects. I could see M31 and M15 which were far from the Moon but not M22 or M8 which were very close to the Moon. We saw a large meteor, and while I was lining up M31, I saw a spectacular meteor flash across the core of the galaxy. I went into the Delphinus constellation to look at the spectacular double stars. Most of the bright stars in the Dolphin are multiples. There is a spectacular "double double" at Gamma. All the bright Delphinus stars are about 90-100 light years away in a tight group. Some of them are true multiples and some are line of sight multiples. I think Gamma Delphinus rivals the famous Epsilon Lyrae Double Double in style and beauty.

We saw Jupiter several times through the night and went to Vesta which was near by. Of course we looked at the Moon. We spent a good deal of time looking at the Gassendi crater. It looks like a standard ring crater with a "stone" which is a small crater which crashed exactly on the crater wall of Gassendi. The center of Gassendi is an ejecta mass, formed of Moon material and the meteor which carved out the crater. Unlike most ejecta masses, Gassendi's ejecta mass split into two pieces.

Well, in the lose some category, everything was going pretty well when we got to shut down. All of a sudden the Dome Rotation motor started to make horrible noises. Now the motor often jumps the track but this was something entirely else. There is a tension spring and a bolt which adjusts the tension. The bolt had snapped. I managed to use a wooden club to force the motor into the track and closed the dome but we will have to get that fixed. It seems like it won't be a really big job like fixing the shutter motor. For one thing, the motor is easy to reach, but we'll have to fix something before next week. Sigh! One bright point was the really nice help I got from a visiting astronomer Nick Larghi who has volunteered to help me restore the gadget.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Aug 24, 2007
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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