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Report From Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA

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Posted by Marty on December 29, 2001 16:11:02 UTC

Well I finally made the 3 hour trip into Atlanta to use the 36" telescope. I couldn't have picked a worse day as far as weather. Pretty much had to peak through the clouds. What really amazed me was the light pollution. I have been in Atlanta 30 or 40 times and never payed any attention to the sky. Now that I look up everywhere I go I was amazed. It looked like day light. The clouds that were flying over were pink/orange. With the full moon added to the mix you could only spot Orion, Jupiter and Saturn. I did not see anything else anywhere in the sky. With Orion, you could only make out his body. No bow. I can really appreciate my back yard now. I thought I had a light pollution problem since I can't see any stars below 15 degrees. I figure I get about 5 magnitude with the naked eye in my back yard.

Well back to Atlanta. I had read that you could use the 36" for free and that several smaller telescopes would be available. I took it that on the smaller telescopes that you could use them at will. But they are pointed at an object and left there. Basically you got in line to peek in the eyepiece for 10 seconds. I spent 2 hours there. After waiting in a ever looping line I peered into the 36" three times for about 10 seconds. First time through they had Saturn in the view. 75mm eye piece really gave a great view. I seen 4 of Saturn's moons. I got back into line to early and had to see Saturn again since some of the people behind me hadn't seen it yet. Next time they pulled up Jupiter. Could see some of the cloud bands. With such a sort peak it is hard to descibe what you really saw.

Transpariency: Bad
Cloud Cover: Heavy
Time at eyepiece: 30 seconds out of 2 hours
Moon: 98%

Pro: We took one of my daughter's friends. She had never seen anything in a telescope. This made the trip worth while.

I will hold out for better viewing before I make this trip again and maybe some really cold cold temps to run off the other 50 people. lol

It's sad to say, but with my skys at home with the 60mm Tasco compared with the 36" light polluted scope. I see a lot more detail with the 60mm refractor.

I don't mean to sound so fussy. I had been looking forward to this trip for 6 months. I really had high hopes. But with my daughter and her friend being so amazed, it was worth the wait.

Clear Skys
Marty Pinson
Crandall, GA

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