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Log, Oct 20, 2000

82 people. What a glorious night we had with clear skies, gentle temperatures, and soft or nonexistent breezes. When I arrived later than usual as I expected Art, Dave, Joe and Doug had things well underway. Outside we had a number of visitor and member telescopes for people to look at an array of stellar wonders. Hank brought down his great 20" Dobsonian Obsession telescope and set it up in the parking lot.

At just about 7:15, the International Space station and the just undocked Space Shuttle could be seen moving across the sky in tandom, through the Big Dipper. The next Shuttle flight will bring the first residents to the Station.

People were invited to see Venus until it got too low, M13 [Great Hercules Cluster], M57 [Ring Nebula], M27 [The Dumbbell], Saturn and Jupiter with a host of Moons. Later in the evening, when Saturn and Jupiter were closer to overhead, we returned to them. One really interesting thing we saw was a orange tinted disk of Saturn's large moon Titan. While it is easy to see disks of Jupiter's four largest Moon's Titan is difficult to resolve.

Our old friend Ernie came down with a list of deep space objects he wanted to see. We turned to the Helix Nebula and saw almost nothing. Oops - the Helix is a huge Nebula and relatively dim. Once we switched to a lower powered eyepiece we got fine views. We decided that NGC7184 about 18 degrees from the horizon was too faint to be considered much more than the Smudge of the Week.

We looked at a planetary nebula NGC246 next followed by a pair of galaxies NGC584 & NGC586 and a singleton galaxy NGC615. The globular cluster 288 was something special. Although it is a globular cluster, it is much more open than most appearing almost as a sense open cluster. We could see substantial detail. The galaxy NGC253 rated a definitive WOW! M77 a galaxy it the Whale [Cetus] showed a lot of structure tonight.

The Moon had risen by now and although we still saw lost of streaks and an occasional fireball from the Orionid meteor shower, viewing was being limited. So we put in our large polarizing filters and looked at the leading edge of the Moon. The huge basin of Oceanus Procellarum (the greatest dark are on the Moon) was very clear. Mountains on the edge of the Moon could be seen with no wobbling due to unstable air. We kept pushing the power of the telescope higher and higher. Oceanus gave way to Mare gave way to Sinus and finally to individual craters. On the way we caught a really wild grouping of craters which would have made Walt Disney proud. There in all his glory was Mickey Mouse, ears, eyes, nose and chin! After a few choruses which ended with us spelling M-O-U-S-E we went for broke. Using Doug's 6.67mm eyepiece and a 2.5 Barlow we jacked the magnification way beyond Dawes Limit (about 800 diameters) all the way up to 1524 diameters. I frankly expected to see little if nothing at this ridiculous power, but no! Copernicus Crater was clearly visible with only a hint of color fringes. It filled the eyepiece from edge to edge. You could see the graduated steps as the crater walls rose from the plane to the peaks. If I hadn't seen it I wouldn't have believed it. This was the equivalent of an astronaut's view from 148 above the surface of the Moon rather than our quarter million miles!

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Oct 20, 2000
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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