Friday, March 7, 1997

Comet / Summer's Approach

My wife wanted to see the comet, so I set the alarm clock for the absurd hour of 5 a.m. Having had cloud cover in the morning the prior day, I figured I'd get to sleep in and avoid an angry spouse and disappointed kids.

Well... 5 a.m. came and the clock-radio announced wake-up time. I quickly (and unstabily) went to our north facing bedroom window. Ah! Cloudy! NO... no... a star. No, not a star.... er.... huh? Hale-Bopp? Geeshhhh loooooookaddat!!! Hey.... honey..... get up!

I had placed the small scope (8" f/7 dob) out back with three eyepieces the night before. :-) This will be good... On went the coffee and out the back door I went. Hey... I can see it from the other side of the pool...

So, there I set up, with a kitchen chair putting me right at the eyepiece. My wife (Pat) came out and was floored at the visual appearance. Tail standing on end.... several degrees naked eye, pointing almost toward Vega. Out came two kids... standing there in the breaking dawn, all enjoying the view together.

Hey.... look.... the summer triangle is out, and immediately those warm night relaxing around the pool, up at the Peak, Lassen, friends, summer vacation.... all seemed to be around the corner.

But, back to the comet... 35mm eyepiece... nice wide view. The jet and waves (yes... Mr. Adler, it does look helical) shown nicely. In goes the 20 wide-field. Wow. Structure... in the dob it was a left handed comet... as one was taken in by the jet exploding off one side... it was easy to overlook the delicate material off the less active side of the nucleus. In went the 10.5mm and a stunning view... material coming off the nucleus almost directly toward the sun. The material from the jet looked to me like the crazy pattern described by a missle trail in the evening twilight... twisting and turning... luminous against the darker sky.

It is certainly worth getting up for.

Finished off the viewing as the sun washed out the dark... by looking at Alberio. Gold 'n blue jewels. I've forgotten what a fun scope the f/7 is. I think I'll put a Telrad on it and give it to my kids.

I know there are plenty of people shooting this ice-ball with cameras...

BUT.... I can't wait to see Gleason's shots through the 7/7! John... tell me how much your best print will be.... I'm putting my order in now!

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