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Log, Feb 18, 2000

Sunday and Tuesday two people working on LX200 in both cases. Three weeks ago, we had a scare at FDO - thanks to a shoddy soldering job in the cable that connects the drive base to the fork, a short circuit caused runaway movement in the declination axis, stopped only by pulling the plug on the scope! On Sunday (2/15) Joe Hartley and his son Harrison made a daylight reinstallation of the cable. The log book records that they were "assisted" by a Monsieur Pepe LePeu, much to the delight of one of the Hartleys and the consternation of the other. After that repair, and a journey into the guts of the declination drive train to fix a lot of slop, the 16" LX-200 at Frosty Drew Observatory was back in service Tuesday night (2/15), and performed like a champion.

After a re-alignment of the scope, the pointing accuracy was very good indeed. A jaunt through Leo was very enjoyable, with dozens of galaxies coming to rest in the field of view of our 25 mm UO Konig eyepiece thanks to the wonderful coupling of the scope with SkyChart III. We simply had the program display galaxies of 11.5 magnitude or brighter and kept pressing the GOTO button! While the moon robbed much of the structure of these distant object, we were thrilled nonetheless, especially as Leo's never been an especially good area for those of us with small aperture scopes (Joe's ETX, my Questar).

The night's viewing started with a sighting (by Les) of the Endeavor low on the northern horizon about 6:10 PM. After Joe arrived, and we got the LX200 16" warmed up, Rigil split beautifully. The B star was clearly crisply visible at 6 o'clock. We looked at M41 in CMa. The three bright central stars were fine [SA17290 was orangy red, with SAO 172296 (right) and SAO172286 (left) as clear yellows. NGC2362 was next with 1-CMa [SAO173446] presenting a beautiful multiple star clearly split. We looked at delta CMa next, the open cluster M93 and M48.

We started to try for some tough objects on a moonlit night. The triple galaxies NGC258/3/4/5 which all range from 14.39 to 14.50 magnitude were clearly if dimly visible. Somehow we made a goof which threw the alignment off. A few work minutes corrected the goof and we were back in business. Of course we had to try lots more galaxies, cluster, multiple stars etc. to convince ourselves that the perfect alignments were were seeing were in fact perfect alignments.

We also installed the old TELRAD on the scope, though we don't really need it most of the time with a functional GOTO. Joe lined up the TELRAD, spotter scope and main scope within a very tight collimation. For Joe's next neat trick, he will modify the TELRAD to work off the Reticule port of the scope! The idea of remotely turning on and off a spotting device without a spotter sounds rather like the old saw about what is the sound of a tree falling in a forest when no one hears it. However, having the TELRAD run off the scope's power (no more dead TELRAD batteries), and having it pulse will make it just that much more easy to use.

After checking out the TELRAD, we went back to viewing "just one more galaxy". The "just one more galaxy" list includes M67, NGC2903 (a nice side on spiral) M105 with NGC3389 and NGC3384 in the same field of view. We turned to M96, M95, M65 and M66 with NGC3629 in the same field. NCG3628 was faint but delightful. NGC 360/5/7/8 was a very nice tight group in Leo. Our last two "just one mores" were NGC3489 and NGC3521.

Friday: No people. Thick heavy wet snow canceled our Friday Night session.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Feb 18, 2000
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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