Monday, July 07, 2008

lake side observing (Toronto)

Guy made a "GO" decision for the RASC Toronto Centre City Observing Sessions (COS), both points east and west. I headed down to Humber Bay West park early.

I was surprised by my compass and where north is.

I shot 30 photos for a panorama. I'll try it in Stellarium...

Set up the telescope around 8:30 PM, right beside the walking/bike path. That caught many eyes.

I was ready pretty early, I know. But the Moon was up high, the clouds were moving out, so, that was our first target. Passers by, cyclists, joggers, couples, singles, families, kids alike dropped by. I served up Luna at 56x and 77x. Everyone enjoyed that. The view steadily improved as it darkened.

Ken showed up around 9 PM. No 'scope. I can't remember for sure if he brought binos. No tripod.

I found Saturn in the muck around 9:40, with the help of my Psion palmtop, the Procyon astronomy software, and my binoculars. Tagged it in the finder scope—lucky. It was pretty soupy. Could not clearly see the Cassini gap. Still, it was good to see. That was a big hit.

Jupiter appeared from behind clouds. Quite high actually. Three moons to the right (mirror reversed).

Ken suddenly said he was not feeling well and left at 9:48.

I was alone. And it was not fun any more. I started to consider packing up. I wondered how everyone was fairing up at Bayview Village Park. At that thought I felt lonely. Perhaps I should have gone up there. When suddenly I heard a familiar voice say, "I didn't do it." It was Tony, with Trevor! Yeh! I felt relief!

We did a bit more observing. Oddly, Saturn improved and Jupiter got worse. I could see a little moon very near Saturn, about a 1/2 ring-width away, at the 11 o'clock position (mirror reversed). Tony confirmed my sighting.

There were not many people wandering by. And more and more kids were arriving to the parking lot... Yo yo!

I was feeling lukewarm about the whole affair. And imagined that Guy and his troupe were having lots of fun at Bayview Village park.

That said, the people that did drop by and look through my tripod-mounted binoculars and my telescope seemed to enjoy themselves. I received a "bravo." One couple said, "You made our evening." A woman was so impressed she went home and brought back her husband. He was quite happy to have made the trek.

Ken noted the following:
One young fellow, around nine or ten, just kept coming back and could not get enough of looking at the Moon—maybe a fledgling astronomer. His parents wandered by, and they too were taken back by the view of the Moon and I believe Saturn, at that point.

One fellow, a 74 year old gent, was truly enthralled by his, first ever, view of the Moon through a scope. He went on to lets us know, that he was excited to relay his experience to his kids and grandchildren.
This evening represented the first time in his life he had looked through a telescope... That's kinda cool, the more I think about it.

Also interesting was that he wanted to know the numbers. He gave me a little piece of paper. So I wrote down:
3500 km in diameter
380000 km away from Earth
We probably had about 20 visitors total.

The guys helped me pack up at 10:27 (humidity 77%, temp 19.8°C). We went for ice cream at Tom's Dairy Freeze. I treated.


I learned later that Guy might have had fewer visitors than me!

No comments: