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Log, Jun 2, 2000

6 People. The evening started out in the middle of a scrumptious sundae composed of a cup of fresh strawberries over a great dollop of strawberry ice cream. Do not interrupt such a repast if you wish to see me at my best. However, that is exactly what happened at 5:55 PM. I got a phone call from the Charlestown Police relayed by George Bliven that something was making a strange high pitched sound in the dome. Few things make me more comfortable than to know our friends in the Charlestown Police keep a watch over our facility. However, even fewer things make me less content than a report of who knows what is happening in the dome.

I drove on over, eating my melting sundae out of a container. I got to the dome about quarter past. Once inside, the strange noise was instantly recognizable as the warning beep of the alarm system. It hadn't triggered an alarm, but was indicating that we hadn't set it correctly. It seems to do this if we get a short power interruption or a brownout. After calls to George Bliven and my wife to let them know all was well, I said to myself "Self {in my best Emeril LaGasse style} what do we do if the nearly two and a half hours 'till dark?" The answer was "What do you think - you wait."

After opening the Observatory up and getting the Nature Center arranged I was met by a nice young teenager who asked if the dome was ever open to the public. When I said we were opening as we spoke, he got quite excited and ran over to his dozen friends who were having a picnic cum volleyball party on the lawn. He rejoined me as I sawed how the software worked, and how we could point at Mercury which I intended to be our first target that night. Some other folks drifted in and started to listen to the discussion when all of a sudden really black clouds swept across the shutter opening.

Heeding my own good advice, I cleared the dome and recommended that people take shelter in their cars. I used Black Bart's Lasso to close the shutter in place, powered down the scope and computer and covered everything with the tarpaulins. By now the wind was shaking the dome. I locked up and ran over to Nature Center. By the way, if you don't know what Black Bart's Lasso is, either read the on-line directions for opening and closing the dome, or come over to the Observatory and I'll show it to you.

About now, Art and a bit later Joe showed up. Joe was full of reassurances that behind the weather front which was now drenching us were beautiful clear skies. Now Joe is a internet guru and a telescope technical director par excellance, but tonight at least his weather prognostications left something to be desired. What was behind the weather front was another weather front and behind that was clouds and extreme dampness.

Making the most of a miserable night, Joe, Art and I went through our Fibber McGee's closet in the back room of the Nature Center. Now I am definitely dating myself by referring to Fibber McGee and his famous closet. The Golden Days of Radio left the entire thing to your imagination but nothing could beat the weird things we dug out of our closet.

Certainly, the most sinister looking object was a pie plate sized half dome with a circuit board and a plug with a tine arrangement that matched nothing that any of us had ever seen. I didn't want to frighten my compatriots but the last time I saw something like that it was in the the hands of Ming the Merciless from the old Flash Gorden television shows of the 1950s. Ming's horrible helmet exchanged minds between people and mice - this thing looked equally horrific. Making executive decisions and in my august role as Director of Planning and Communications (which has absolutely nothing to do with Ming the Merciless helmets) I uttered the fateful words "Let's chuck this junk." So we did.

A few stars were dimly visible through the thick haze, but we decided all we could see through it had to be as bright as a searchlight for clarity, so we wrapped up and went home near midnight.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jun 2, 2000
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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