Mars Fri 8/22 Lick 36" Lick Refractor Mt. Hamiltion

by James Turley

DateFriday, August 22, 2003
LocationMt Hamilton, CA 4009 feet
InstrumentLick 36" (914mm) Refractor,
fl 17628mm (57 feet, 10"),
f/19 EQ Mounted
driven RA load 14.5 Tons (28,847 pounds).

After a warm breezy sunset chamber music concert of Bach, Teleman, Procol Harem, and The Who at the Lick "Music of the Spheres" program, I again helped funnel 160 visitors into the Great Dome of the 36" Refractor. The object was M15. The seeing was not steady for this object, and the RH approached the 95% shut down limit. The fragile Lick objective glass is anhydrous and absorbs moisture dangerously.

By midnight, the RH held steady and we were all thrilled when Dr. Gates swung the great 36" around and down to Mars. The observing floor was raised to its maximum limit, while she rotated the slit around to reveal Mars. Still, we had to wheel around the old creaky 24 rung observing ladder to reach the eyepiece (55mm Plossl, 320x).

The seeing was outstanding. That Grand Old Telescope seemed happy to be pointing at an object worthy of her focal length and objective breadth. Unlike my last event up there, this time, she was performing at peak. We were thrilled to watch Mars for over an hour, enthusing at high contrast views of unnamed features.

Never fear, at least for now, the 36" Lick is not sliding into senility or dying via cultural attrition.