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Log, Jun 9, 2000

27 people. The night started out rather unpromising with a fair number of clouds covering the sky. However, they were thin and occasionally gaps showed through. I met a teacher from Cranston who asked if there was much chance that we'd get a clear shot at anything. I said that I thought that there was a decent chance for some breaks. The kids from Cranston had been studying astronomy all year and this was a big night at the Observatory! Soon they arrived.

Whenever the sky is doubtful, old reliables like the Moon are critical. We showed the kids the way the dome worked and how the telescope responded to the computer (and vice versa). Joe installed a new release of APC (Astronomer's Control Panel) by DC3 Dreams and he demonstrated the software to the kids. The teacher said that she thought that the telescope would pay attention better than the kids, but when the telescope said "Huh?" when Joe asked it to "Goto Mercury", everyone laughed. Soon however, the telescope responded by swinging around to where Mercury would have been if the clouds weren't in the way. "Goto Moon" Joe said and it moved back. Soon the kids were catching glimpses of the Moon through increasing large gaps in the cloud deck.

Joe tried to show M57 [the Ring] but misty air and moonlight made it fairly poor. M104 [the Sombrero] was even worse because the Moon was very close by. However, the great late Spring target M13 [the Great Cluster] was it usual wonderful self. Outside, Les was displaying Alberio in the small Astroscan 2000. At sixteen power, it was quite possible to see an orange and a blue star close together. However, when Joe found the same target inside what an astounding difference. The orange star was pale peach and a "full half inch" away was the aquamarine blue star. We swung over to M56 which we don't frequently visit. It was adequate, but not great against the moonlight.

We started after various double stars, Alpha Vulpecula, Altair (and its double BD+18_4232) and Alpha Sagitta with its dim 13th magnitude companion.. At this point we started to try to find the reddest star we could. HD232078 was our first quite successful attempt, but it paled in comparison to the double star HD185622/HD353339 which were very red and very blue respectively. BD+16_3945 was yet another attempt but it was not nearly as red as the prior two stars.

We started looking at various clusters. First we looked at NGC6885 in Vulpecula. It is an Open Clusters which did not impress us very much. M71 a globular cluster appeared to be more a open cluster in the mediocre viewing we had. M27 [the Dumbbell] was much better than expected without filters for assistance. M11 [the Wild Duck] compared poorly with its image a couple of weeks ago. We tried but failed to see NGC6712. M107 in Ophiuchus was faint but visible with averted vision. Pluto was near by so we made a try for it. We could only briefly get glimpses of it and then only by careful hopping around the star field. The Globular clusters M5 and M10 were very nice.

A real surprise was M12. While looking at it Joe spotted two meteors and Les saw one within a few minutes. We suspect they may be Bootids meteors. The biggest disappointment was the predicted Aurora Borealis which never appeared. Joe had never seen the aurora in all his years of observing.

By now it was near 1 and clouds were rolling back so we wrapped up and went home.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Jun 9, 2000
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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