Monday, February 23, 2009

Comet Lulin at the Luz Obsrvatory

I started off the weekend with a bang! I have been talking about comet Lulin for months and haven't been able to view it because every time I had the chance the weather would not cooperate. Good ol sunny California, ya right LOL. Friday the 20th started out cloudy but in the evening as 3 of us showed up at the Luz Observatory the skies cleared. Well we started out by viewing Venus which was one of the best views I have ever seen of this planet. Then Pandora's Box was opened, oops no that was the front door of the observatory down stairs. Well we had an entire elementary class show up with their parents. Wow but the 3 of us can handle that no problem. So next we fixed the scope on Saturn because that ALWAYS wows the crowd. People just kept coming and coming LOL. Well to find out the night before the local news did a story on comet Lulin, plus we had advertised the public viewing in the local paper. Well needless to say we ended up with 97 people in the observatory that night. The line went around the scope platform down the stairs to a crowd filling up our large meeting room and lobby. WOW! We also had a direct link setup to the GAVRT radio telescope which is part of the Goldstone Radio Telescope complex on Ft. Irwin which was donated to the Lewis Center by JPL/ NASA. The kids love to actually move that big ol dish and watch it live via live video stream. Well anyhow the final count of bodies was right at 97. That is one of the biggest crowds we have had there. Well at 8:40 PST the Comet started to rise and we gave everyone a nice view of the comet along with many other objects that night. It really feels good to see public interest peak on events like this.


  1. Glad you had a super event with the public! It must be fun to be able to use this facility for outreach - folks are drawn toward domes and big scopes - as we amateur astronomers are!

  2. You need to write more often Tony. Lulin got quite a bit of publicity last year, and it's only the second comet I've seen (saw Halley's as a kid). In some ways though, I thought the publicity was bad, since it never got as bright as expected, and I had my non-astronomy friends on Facebook asking how to find it. I hadn't even seen it yet when the questions started coming in, and they kind of forced me into finding it. Not that it was a bad thing, I just hadn't got around to it yet.