Oct 21, 2011

PMO Closed

So, yes, the observatory season ended, Saturday, October 1st. It was such a crappy day all day Saturday, we were all pretty bummed that we might not get any sky. It looked pretty darn hopeless, honestly.

The sign says closed. :-(

We got some glimpses of the Moon, and I jokingly said I'd try my Hogwarts spell [which worked once earlier in the season]. It's pretty simple. I flick the fingers of my left hand at the sky and say, "Clouds go away."

We laughed, not expecting it to work. I packed Orson Bradbury up in the car before total dark. Two of the volunteers and I shared 'Cannon', our name for the University of Oregon's 10" dobsonian telescope. Our newest volunteer entertained us with a story of a cattle mutilation he had witnessed -- which I'll tell you sometime soon -- when he was down in Arizona. He just moved up here from there and spent many years working for the National Parks. Yes, we like science, but we also share a like for weird.

Lo and behold, my spell worked. The sky cleared to almost perfection. We looked at all our favorite objects and shared them with the visitors. Our guests went home. I went into the 24 to hang and look through the big telescope the rest of the night. I fought the sleepies to stay up to see Orion and all its splendors. Well, ten minutes before it rose high enough to look at, the clouds came rolling back in. Like a huge black curtain, saying, "Good night and adieu until next May." Siiigh.

Just as sad, I had to return the magic eyepiece [the 11mm Nagler] to the kind volunteer who lent it to me for the summer. I've got to get my hands on one of those. It gave me views through my 8" dob which rivaled the 24". No lie.

At any rate, I did capture some photos of Jupiter through the 24. We didn't have a filter on, like we should have, so the glare made the pictures a bit blurrier than they otherwise might have been. Still, they're not bad. You can see Europa peeking up over Jupiter, a little left of center, looking a bit like a pimple. The red spot is also visible in the large band of red closest to Europa and just above center.

Can you believe I already miss it? I can't. I was so ready for the break, and have been going 200 mph since. Yesterday I had convinced Husband to go out with me last night, but the clear day turned into a cloudy mess. So, we didn't go out. He was able to fix my telrad, and rumor has it the holiday season could bring me a magic eyepiece of my very own. :D

Have a great weekend everybody!