Friday, September 28, 2007

Astronomy Down Under

Here is a story Rob Esson, one of my astronomy buddies, sent via email. Rob travels quite a bit for his job, and visits Australia regularly. He is also from the "otherside of the pond" and indulges in occasional bits of "we don't speak the same language" humor. All very amusing, naturally. You should imagine this story told in a sort of nasally British accent...

Gentlemen: sorry I couldn't join y'all, but let me share a story-ette with you. A week ago last Saturday night I was a couple of hundred miles west of Sydney in the Outback observing through an 18in Obsession (see image -- chap is Lachlan MacDonald of the Astronomy Society of New South Wales). There are, as you know, three fantabulous Globulars in the sky - Omega Centauri, M13, and 47 Tucanae. We were looking at 47 Tuc with a 26mm Nagler when t'other guy there Tony says "Some people see colours in 47 Tuc at high magnification - lets find out what you see" (of course, had he been American, he would have said 'colors'), So we switched eyepieces to one of the old 12mm Naglers (remember the double barrelled ones that you can use as 1.25in or 2in?). I look through and say "Well, I can't see any obvious color, and it doesn't seem to have as good definition at the higher magnification". Lachlan then takes a look and concurs, saying "It's actually a pretty shitty view", and shines his red light onto the objective to check for dew - but no go. Tony also looks and agrees that the definition is poorer ... until it dawns on him that ... yes, we'd left the translucent plastic lens cap on the other end, and we were STILL able to see the globular, AND some degree of definition. After taking the cap off, well, words fail me (gold and blue were my colors, Lachlan agreed, and Tony saw salmon pink - but maybe it was the wine) - but that should give you just some sort of clue as to how amazing 47 Tuc is that it can even penetrate a lens cap and look reasonable!


(c) 2007 Rob Esson Productions. All rights reserved.

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