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Saturday, January 24th, 2009
Hi Everyone!

I hope this report finds you and yours well.

My first foray into the astronomy night for 2009 was memorable. Five members of the Astronomical Society of Southern New England ventured down to 'ol Cape Cod. The clear wide parking area was flat pavement and sits right on the beach. The roar of the waves on the beach tried to coax one into sleepiness. The intense cold reversed that effect instantly. Seeing was tough with the wind and cold, but the transparency was great. The Milky Way was wonderfully visible.

First of all, it was the first time I've seen my club friends this year. Whenever I meet with you all I'm happy to see you.

Second, I'm realizing my lower temperature limitations. When I arrived the temperature was 25f and dropping like a rock, with a 30 knot wind thrown in for good measure. That's a wind chill of ... what ... um ... minus a gagillion something? Yeah that's close enough. I packed it in after about two hours. I was too uncomfortable. I wasn't having fun with the cold and wind. I reviewed and practiced all the 'keeping warm' techniques in our recent newsletter except I forgot to cover one vital place. You perverts...I know what you're thinking...I mean my legs! I remembered to double layer every where else but there. That was a BIG loss of warmth. I'll remember next time. Also...'Thinsulate' is your friend. I compared a Thinsulate watch cap with a non Thinsulate face cover ski mask. The watch cap won out. Though my face wasn't covered, keeping the top of my head warm meant the difference. Having the face mask on made me talk funny, and I found I had trouble keeping my eyeglasses and eyepieces clear of fogging from my breath.

Third, I saw the Orion Nebula, M 42, or NGC 1976, in my own scope, for the first time. Yahoo! That's a beautiful way to start my year list in the sky. 'Wasn't as colorful as Hubble pix, but I could easily make out the familiar shape of the nebula, as well as tendrils and dust lanes. Wiki tells me it's 1,270 LY away, and 24 LY across. Those photons of light observed last night left M 42 1,270 years ago...in 739 A.D. In a word...wow. M 42 is one of our closer celestial neighbors. Dang, the universe is amazing...and BIG!

Setup of the Orion XT10 Classic 'Big Ten Inch' dob was quick and easy. I'm happy to see the set up practice in my living room is paying off in a dark setting. I used the Orion RACI finder scope, and didn't bother setting up the TelRad. I wanted to keep things simple tonight since I foresaw a fast break down and escape from the c c c cold. I started with a cheepie 2" eyepiece I recently picked up. The view was OK, but I noticed the view got worse towards the edge of the eyepiece, just like folks said in other reviews. You get what you pay for.

The view in the 1 1/4" stock Sirius 25mm eyepiece was crisper and revealed less of a field of view, but about the same sized details. I think I enjoyed the view in the smaller eyepiece because the wind would blow across my eye, which would tear up, and force me to blink the tears away. The wider field of view of the 2" intensified this effect. Only the strongest gusts of wind bothered the stability of the view on the dob base. Setting up in the lee of the cars helped reduce the effect of the wind.

I didn't use the Alt-Az modifications this evening. I will tell you the 4" legs added to the modified base brought the eyepiece up to where I could use a stool and be comfortable sitting at the 'scope.

I hope you enjoyed this report as much as I did writing and experiencing it. 'Though I whined about the cold, I'm glad we made the effort. Best regards everyone,

Gene

Thawing in Plymouth
_________________
Clear Skies!

Gene Harriman
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Orion XT10 BTI 'Big Ten Inch'






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