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Log, Feb 6, 2009

9 people. Francine and Les have decided that we are not going to remain open when the weather drops into the single digits no matter how clear it is. The strain on the equipment is just too much and it is getting increasingly difficult to get part for our equipment (not to mention downtime and costs). There is also a matter of severe cases of "astronomerii frigidii".

Last night was a case in point. The weather forecast suggested that the temperature would be about 20 F. In fact it was in the teens and dropped into the single digits. We chose to close about 9:30 after everyone had gone home. So sure enough just as we got everything tucked away someone came but frankly we decided that prudence took precedence.

Targets for the night included Venus (a spectacular crescent), M42/43 (gorgeous as always), (iota Orionis multiple star system), M31 (only the core was evident), the Moon, Rigel (which split nicely) and a few stars Les used to reset the alignment after the problems we had with the scope in January. We did a lot of star pointing with our green lasers.

We had reports of bright stars that were planes. Usually they are easy to tell apart but on really cold crisp nights, a plane flying directly towards you does not seem to move for very long periods. Neither does the brightness change noticeably for minutes on end.

You may have heard accounts on an unusual "green" comet - Lulin. It is in the sky but we cannot look at it during normal hours. It does not rise until after midnight. It is not very bright (about as bright as the dimmer stars in the LITTLE Dipper (not the bright Big Dipper). Finding it can be a bit of a trick. It was near Zubelelgenubi (the brightest star in Libra) last night and will swing across the "Spring" sky through Virgo and on past Regulus in Leo over the next month.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Feb 6, 2009
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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