Arrived at the peak, with Hannah and two guests (Dylan and Clara). When we arrived, we saw that the roof had already been rolled back on the observatory. Hannah was a bit disappointed at that, she enjoys cranking the roof open. She got over it quickly and took Clara (who is about the same age as Hannah) out to look a the rocks she found she could get a spark off of. I walked into the meeting room and introduced Dylan (Clara’s father) to Ron (Fremont Peak Observatory Association: Director of Instruments), and we chatted for a while. Even this early in the evening it was windy and cold. Dylan, Clara and Hannah went for their jackets right away. I set up the telescope and chatted with a few people standing around, answering questions about the 30-inch and the history of the observatory.
Naked eye observation of Venus, followed by views through the 114mm f/8 newtonian with the 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. Views complicated by windy conditions. I had the scope set up with the legs retracted all the way both to compensate for the wind and to allow the large number of children at the observatory to see easily.
At the request of Ron Dammann, I looked for and finally found Mercury low above the horizon. Kept the scope on it until it set. Very hazy views due to the low angle, and the wind kept moving the scope around, but during clear moments you could make out the crescent shape. Adults were impressed, most of the kids were ‘ho hum’ about it.
After observing Venus and Mercury, I moved on to Saturn. By this time the wind was dying down a bit, so I extended the tripod fully, and moved on to Saturn. Seeing was good, and several people were claiming to be able to see Titan. l wasn’t sure that it was what I was seeing, but now looking it up on ‘The Sky’ I think that Titan was in the right position to be viewed. I got several “woah” and “wow” comments while looking at ‘The Jewel of the Solar System’.
After looking at the other visible planets, I moved on to Jupiter. The really neat thing about the series of observations I took was that over the course of the night I could see Io emerge from behind Jupiter. It started out completely concealed by the planet, but then moved out further and further from Jupiter until it was completely separated, and we could see all four of the galilean sattelites. I was able to confirm this with 2Sky on my Palm T/X. By this time of the night only the really serious adults were still viewing.
Packed up and headed for home. I offered to help Ron close up, but he said for me to get the girls home. Dylan, Clara and Hannah all fell asleep on the way home.