Land's End San Francisco

by Jane Houston Jones

Some of the characters last night included Bill Cherrington with "JD" pronounced Jade but named after you know who - his great f/long green 10-inch dob, ASP's Bob Naeye had is 12-inch Portaball - Mojo helped him collimate the toilet bowl and we could see the E and F stars in the trapezium through it. Actually all the well collimated scopes, down to 6-inchers could spot them.

Bob also had a TV-102 on a Gibralter mount. Lorrie was helping man :-) the Portaball, I think. Kerry Sagar (Calstar attendee and RTMC merit winner last year) brought a new nice compact 6-incher he made, and was showing the sun before green flash through a refractor. There were several Orion ST-80's, a little of everything last night, including a 10-incher from the 2002 scope class. The tube was cut in half on this one so they could fit it into their small car. After we reattached the spider that fell out inthe car, collimated it, it gave some nice views and the owner - Margaret from the Randall Museum where the dobclass is taught was beyond excitement. Next time she'll remember to bring batteries for her telrad. You only forget batteries once!

Our Sidewalk Astronomy loaner #1 an f/8 8-incher was being manned by its current borrower and SFAA member, 9-year old Anna, who was marking off her Messier conquests in the Norm Sperling "Starhoppers Guide to the Messiers" By Lenore Freeman, which is what I used when I started, and I keep extra copies on hand for beginners like Anna. It was fun lying on the ground, looking up with a planisphere to help Anna and her mom find constellations. Her best conquests were the Andromeda galaxy, M31, the beehive cluster, M44, the Perseus Double cluster and the glob M79 in Lepus. Friday night she was in an observing class at the California Academy of Sciences and told the whole class the Sidewalk Astronomers were out on the corner, so the whole class, led by instructor/wizard Dave Rodrigues walked the half mile to the telescopes. Anna plans to be an astronaut and is insistent on going to Mars, after she completes her degrees at M.I.T.. :-)

In our f/9 AP180EDT, when the GRS transited, everyone was able to see the pink bloodshot appearing spot (300x 6 Radian), in the red spot hollow, a first for many.

One person, a newbie who hangs out with us when we do sidewalk astronomy, commented that the vast array of telescope designs gave her such a good opportunity to really check them out and ask questions. A family with a "Christmas refractor" were able to see moon, Saturn and Jupiter, even though the bolt holding scope to wobbly mount must have fallen out of Santa's sleigh. With a little help they were able to at least see the telescope "worked", learn to focus and aim and they were totally happy campers who will be visiting Scope City for bolt replacement today.

Lots of women amateur astronomers in this group, too, and plenty of women guests who were wowed with the people, the ambience and the views. Jane and Stacy, Lorrie, Stephanie, Jennifer, Margaret and I'm sure I am forgetting a few since I hung out at my scope and with our loaner most of the night.