Log, Apr 24, 2009

108 people. We had an ideal night, lots of often delayed Scouting groups and this simply meant we had a really large group. One person said that one of the larger SUV's looked like a clown car because people kept getting out and more kept getting out. I didn't see that car but my own measure was simple: I had to keep on Saturn for almost an hour and a half. In one way a great many people is wonderful but in another way it is a detriment - we can't show many objects to many people.

We could usually see 4 out of the 7 moons that are within our grasp. Some were easy like Titan which was actually visible while the sky was still blue. Tethys and Dione were easily picked out a bit later just off the right side of the Rings. Shortly after this we could pick up Enceledus slightly above the line from Saturn, Tethys/Dione out towards Titan. Rhea stayed tucked behind Saturn all night. Mimas was generally hidden by the Rings but late in the evening we could see it as a slight bulge in the Rings at the left side. Encelydus was marginally visible as it danced just outside the Rings on the left. Hyperion was simply too dim to be seen.

When I was planning the night's viewing, I made a point of choosing M3. I don't know why we don't visit it more often but somehow we don't I suppose that when M13 is up the difference between M13 (The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules) and the lesser but still fine M3 makes M13 the choice target. In any case M3 was spectacular with myriads of individual stars visible. I went to VV Corvi next which is a fine example of a wide double star with two nearly perfectly matched components.

By now the crowd had gotten down to a more manageable number and we began to tick off objects in the Coma/Virgo Super Cluster. M104 was chased by M87, M86, the Eyes [NGC 4435/36], and sundry other galaxies. About this time I decided to try something a bit odd. [OK, I know that regulars will say the trying something a bit odd is standard operating procedure with me but so be it.] I went to our lowest power widest angle lens. We could easily see a bunch of galaxies at a single glance. The Eyes and M86 covered less than two thirds of the view. We could also pick out M84 and NGC 4388.

Having tried our lowest power widest angled eyepiece, I decided to swing around to Saturn and try our highest powered eyepiece - one that magnifies 800 fold without a Barlow lens. Saturn was really fascinating. We could see banding on the planet that was invisible in lower powers.

We looked at a few double stars of note as the time advanced towards half past eleven and I decided to play the game of "What's This?" with everyone. I centered on a reasonable bright point of light and asked if anyone could pick out anything (other than brightness) that distinguished the object. Francine identified the object immediately as Ceres (the largest of the asteroids).

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Apr 24, 2009
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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