We didn’t end up looking through the main telescopes until the very end of the night, after the wonderful science lecture on "active galaxies" and black holes. (Some parts were difficult to follow, but the lecturer, David Rosario, was fairly good at explaining most of it.) The best part was a video of a star getting sling-shot around the center of a galaxy with nothing visibly present there, presumably indicating a black hole.
I enjoyed the ambience of the 36" dome more than the image I saw through it. It was neat seeing the stars, but without having too much knowledge, it may has well have been a cloud of dust.
The 40" telescope is in a very cramped room, so the ambience wasn’t the most appealing part of it. In this case, the telescope was pointed at Jupiter–something I could relate to at least. It was a bit blurry, and because of atmospheric disturbance a little shaky.
In both rooms, I tried taking some long exposures. None of them really turned out, but it was funny how many of the astronomers said "This is a stupid question, but that doesn’t have a flash, right?" (Or, in the 40", "If that has a flash, I’m going to…") When viewing through the telescopes, the rooms are kept dark with only red light allowed. A flash would have blinded everyone. (If I didn’t have the 5D, which doesn’t have a built-in flash, I probably would not have taken any pictures, worrying I’d somehow screw up turning the flash off.)
At the end, one of the astronomers asked if I wanted to take a picture through the telescope. I hadn’t even thought about it, but why not? It’s just a really powerful telephoto, right? They suggested some settings (which I used), and I just held the lens up to the eyepiece (which was specially installed for viewings like on this night; normally they use a computer), and snapped.
The image isn’t too clear, but it’s still pretty cool capturing the memory of looking through the scope.
I actually captured one of the moons, but Jupiter was overexposed. To bring out Jupiter more, I had to sacrifice the moon.
I think the history lecture helped me appreciate viewing Jupiter more. One of the moons (Amalthea) was discovered at the Lick Observatory, the first moon discovered since Galileo (though that was through the 36").
Tagged: , mthamilton , lickobservatory , santaclaracounty , diablomountains , summervisitorsprogram , observatory , jupiter , telescope , throughthetelescope , 40inchreflector , planet , starred , San Jose , California , United States of America