Sunday, October 02, 2005

20051001.2015 - Team TotL in full attendance

The medicinal properties of fairy tales and a good night's sleep.

I missed out on the old Moon practice run the morning of 01 Oct. (I would also miss this morning's 02 Oct. old Moon crescent sighting.) A good night's sleep was the culprit, and what a benefit to my health and well being. Regarding this night's observing session, oversleeping to 10:15am was exactly what I needed to restore my energy for a productive night and more considerate disposition to the pedestrians. Perhaps, babysitting my daughter's friend 3-year old and reading to her the books that I had read Arissa when she was a baby contributed to the improvement. Come on! Dr. Seuss, Snow White, and Mother Goose fairy tales have a way of re-aligning an adult's morals and senses.

Charlie, Kin and I set up at TotL where not many pedestrians happened by, less than handful. For those that did take looks, I limited the objects to the Double Cluster and/or Andromeda's Galaxy. Alexander the Mathematician, Michelle the Security Guard, and Hawaiian George, familiar pedestrians would stop by and chat.

Ben made an appearance some time after 10:30pm, bringing Team TotL to full attendance. After a summer off concentrating on birding, it appears that Ben will return to his nova hunting program.

Ben's reappearance to the fold coincides with the rising of Pleiades. He was an apparition since Sun - and birds - was in that part of his sky making him virtually unseen during the summer months. Well, to the night sky and astronomers, at least. As such, Sun progressively traveled east across the ecliptic, and Ben's appearance coincides with Pleiades rising above the tree to our ENE. Ben is a fall-winter constellation. He is marked in the sky about 24° to ENE of Pleiades, by the very asterism which he discovered in Auriga, "The Chesire Cat". (Follow the Leaping Minnows to the NNE where M38 sits. M38 is in the northern cheek of a cat ~ 2° in size, one can form an equilateral triangle with its right eye and the last star of the mouth.) My belief is reinforced by the fact our first dialogue was online at gomsa on 01 Oct. 2003 & our first meeting will be 2 years to the date of 05 Oct. 2003. This begins our third year observing; and, it has begun on 01 Oct. 2005.

About a week after meeting Ben, I would meet Charlie. Maybe a little earlier, but my notes mention him set up at TPO preparing for the eclipse to come in that November. That particular note describes our observing session on 12 Oct. 2003. I've known Charlie to be the predominant binocular observer of the group, consistently mounting his Canon 15x image stabilzed model. I really don't recall his starting abilities but I have witnessed an exceptional improvement with his starhopping skill. Over this past summer we observed frequently, and many a time, he has led the observing agenda where I would trail in my scope or at least get peeks through his bins. Of recent, he picked up a Coulter CT-100, nicknamed SAR. SAR requires TLA. As SAR gets more time in the park, the Canon bins spend more time at home.

Kin appears where I note him by "Ken ? (a young cyclist)" sometime around 5 March 2005. This somewhat corresponds to Time's Up (Critical Mass) February Midnight Central Park ride. I think that's where Kin had discovered us. Kin has been a regular, growing from the armchair-Starry Night observer to naked eye observer with Mr. PocketStars on the PocketPC to now having bins, spotting scope, and tripod. I remember he would come to the park with 1", that is 25mm, bins. Those are "opera glasses", aren't they? His enlistment to the team seems perfectly natural.

"Mirror-mirror in my hand..." I can reflect on time past of others with general ease. I leave it to others to give voice to my time.

This is the varsity team of TotL. From these gents I attribute the majority of development in skill and interest. For anyone taking up the hobby of observational astronomy the absolute best resource one can have is a group of friends with which you can comfortably observe, share, and explore. And, yes, mistakes and imagination are acceptable: the very necessary and natural element of growth. One, maybe two years, of armchair astronomy and solo observing prior to meeting these guys pales significantly to the advances I gained through time spent with them.

Ben, Charlie and I first observed from Turtle Pond Observatory (TPO) on the south western corner of the Great Lawn. We stayed there until 04 May 2004. Ben posted a report to gomsa marking the date when we re-located to the north end of the Great Lawn. The move was motivated by Comet NEAT C/2001 Q4 appearance 8.4° altitude, and from that location our view South was improved. TPO's SW to NNW horizon is considerably obstructed by neighboring trees, and to the South the trees and castle across the pond rise high enough to limit how low we can see. My guess is maybe 8° to 10°. In any event, the north end has many advantages, particularly the nuisance from the street lamps was not as accentuated.

Over time, we continued in the new location, and sometime in June or July of that year the location was dubbed Top of the Lawn (TotL) by Ben. To give credit where credit is due, I recall TPO being dubbed its nickname by Curtis Borg in a post to gomsa. The TPO crew derived an amusing term from Curtis. Occasionally, he would suggest meeting at TPO but never showed. This was pretty consistent so in his absence, we called it 'pulling a curtis'. I haven't heard the term in a long while, but I am guilty this month of pulling curtis by suggesting recently that we observe the old Moon. Charlie & Kin went to Carl Schurz Park (CSP) over the past 2 days in the wee hours while I was taking my medicine.