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Log, Apr 14, 2000

36 people. We had a troop of young girl scouts with us throughout the early evening. In addition we had at least one teen who was taking the astronomy elective course over at North Kingstown's high school. Welcome all. We enjoyed having you there even if the Moon and partially hazy sky made viewing a bit difficult.

Since so many people arrived early, Art set up his 10" Dobsonian and Les set up his 3.5" Questar to handle the overflow and to give everyone extra targets to view.

Until Dave and Allyson arrived, Joe kept the LX200 pointed at bright objects. We saw Jupiter, Saturn and Mars for a while - just about our last chance until Fall. M42 was clear enough, but Moon light dimmed the nebulosity. Joe went to three of his favorite Messier objects, M35, M36 and M37 (with HD39183 in it). The great Hercules cluster M13 could also be seen but again the slight haze and bright Moon light limited attempts to find fine detail. Joe rounded up our deep space objects with M3 and M53.

Outside Steve spent about a half hour trying to locate M81 and M82 up in the North using Art's big Dobs. He was successful. However, the time he spent certainly points up the value of GOTO computerized computers at well attended star parties.

Throughout the night we displayed the Moon to everyone. By 11 PM when we were down to the most avid viewers, we finally gave up and began to seriously begin to study the Lunar surface. It is weird, everyone of us had looked at the Lunar surface countless times. And yet, we don't really know it. We discovered that the polarizing filters are just large enough that if we turn the eyepiece, they lower filter turns slowly relatively to the upper filter. Effectively, we can change polarity without removing the filter. We used this effect to study three ultra bright points on the surface. We guess that the brightness is due to a perfect Moon - Sun - Earth angle. Most of these bright points don't show up as much of anything on lunar maps.

All in all, not a great night except for the joy of watching youngsters really being thrilled by the night sky. For me, one child's cry of amazement at the sky is worth a week's preparation many times over. We are unpaid volunteers it says in our documentation. And that is true if you are crass enough to only count monetary rewards. If you factor in the satisfaction of watching kids get excited by the real world about them then we are some of the most overpaid people on the planet.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Apr 14, 2000
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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