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Log, May 8, 2009

The forecast for tonight gave Francine and Les a good deal of doubt. In fact, the weather was marginal from 8 to about 10 with thin haze becoming increasingly dense clouds. With the Moon rising early, this meant the sky was abnormally bright. We could see Saturn and the Moon but everything else was marginal. By 10:30, we looked at each other and said it was time to wrap up a disappointing evening. Just as we threw the rain tarp over the equipment, two folks showed up but they couldn't see anything, even the Moon.

Of course, the Moon is a spectacular object. To people who have never seen it in anything more powerful than a set of 8x30 binoculars, seeing the Moon at 56 power is quite a treat. The use of polarizing filters, with the whole Moon in the eyepiece, makes for an excellent view. Now if the Moon simply wouldn't wipe out views of galaxies and globular clusters we really would have something.

We Earth based astronomers groan about the Moon's brightness but it is actually the darkest of the large bodies in the inner solar system. Only 6% of the Sun's light that falls on the Moon is reflected. The Earth reflects 37% of the light and even Mercury, the next dullest inner solar system body reflects 11%. Just imagine what it would do to viewing the sky if it was as shiny as Venus' 66%.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
May 8, 2009
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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