October 31, 2006 - "Trick Or Treat"...
Comments: Ah, yes. Custom. Or is that costume? No matter which it is, I still enjoy it. I started Halloween on vampyre shift and what more fitting way than to celebrate the shift of the walking dead than to be one? Sporting top hat and tails with a makeup job that did credit to my Rob Zombie roots... my blonde dreadlocks a mastery of tangles that even Billy Lane would shudder to contemplate, I arrived at work to stand at the door and await my friend from El Salvador. Crossing himself, he anxiously peered at my badge through the glass before he decided it was safe to unlock the door. I insisted that since he was not a goat that he was safe from "El Chupacabra" and although he thought me a bit insane, was still able to smile.
The night hours passed. It was cloudy, so outside wasn't fun for a break - it was cold. I was still worried about my Dad and anxious for the hours to pass and the day to arrive so I could go visit. Change? No way. I don't explode in the sunlight and I know my Dad has a sense of humor. And he is much improved! Fortunately, the morgue was on the wrong floor, eh?
And so I await my guest ghouls. The elaborate pumpkin is carved and the candles are lit. There is enough candy here to treat a small country. The night is still cloudy, but there are enough breaks here and there to view through. Mars was awful, yet Mars was spectacular. Both candy for the eyes and candy for the hands! The time for "Trick Or Treat" was almost over when I head a voice that I almost didn't recognize. "Do you remember me?" Of course I remember! For many years this now young man has been a constant visitor and the season would not be complete without him. I pointed to Mars and we talked about how much as happened in the last year. How wonderful it is that they come back! Just like the undead, eh...
And all is well in the world.
"And to be yourself is all that you can do... yeah. To be yourself is all that you can do. To be yourself is all that you can do... yeah. To be yourself is all that you can do."
October 29, 2005 - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"...
Comments: What a beautiful night. To make matters even better, daylight savings time and an extra hour to play! For a change, I was out at skydark and loving every second of it. My first objects of choice were a muddy little Mercury and an overzealous Venus, but do you know how grand they are? If you don't, then where's your eyes? They couldn't have been on the skies because you would have noticed the Venus and Mars were duking it out on opposite sides of the sky. While Mars isn't nearly as bright as Venus, it is at its closest tonight and to see two such bright points nearly opposite of one another was most impressive.
So why "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"? Probably because I'm feelin' a little sentimental because my Dad is in the hospital. As much as I dislike too much technology, my little phone is right with me and on standby should I be needed. I know everything is gonna' be alright - but then we never really know, do we? And so I walk that last "Yellow Brick Road" of summer and say goodbye to long standing favourites - M22, M28, M17, M16, M11, M57, M27 and M71. It will be awhile before they come round again...
But, the beauty of the night sky is knowing they will.
Neptune and Uranus follow, and then a leisurely stroll through favourites such as M15, M2, M31, M31, M110, and M36, M37 and M38. By now I am very much feeling the cold, so leaving the scope out, I venture back indoors to work for awhile and let another constellation rise to its best.
Tonight's journey begins at Iota Pices Austrinus and drops south as far as the sky will let me tonight. First up is NGC 7130. I found it to be faint, but not exceptionally so. Although it's not a monster, it definately has a very concentrated core region and appears to be standing up in the eyepiece. For the record, it was a 12." Meade and a 12.3mm widefield eyepiece, with steady 5.5 or better skies, eh? To its northeast is NGC 7135. This one looks all for the world like a little planetary nebula, yet I know it to be a galaxy because we've got three nearby stellar points. A short hop further east brings up NGC 7154 who, thankfully, is much brighter than the previous studies! This one definately shows elongation and could possibly be barred rather that edge-on in presentation.
The next is a galaxy group that is also faint, but hey... So are the "Quints" for this aperture. The desination is northeast of Mu towards Theta, and the is definately a finderscope marker star for the field. Between two stars are three of them... The singular NGC 7173 and the pairing of NGC 7174 and NGC7176. They contain distinctive core regions and a little wispy round structure but nothing more. The last of the group runs just ahead of a star, and if I've got this right, it is NGC 7172. It is definately faint, small and not very distinctive except for it looks like a tilted spiral. It's a nice field altogether and one very worth the hunting it took to find it. I tried for NGC 7361, but it just isn't to be tonight.
And before I go in? It is Mars... For there can be nothing else. At this height, it is superior and the change in viewing time allows me to see what I have always called the "moose antlers" begining to rotate inward. I admire it for a very long time, wishing once again that I had thought to sketch. I make a few brief ones on my notepad that I use for galaxies, but they aren't exactly quality - just a way of keeping my hands busy, I guess.
Because Mars is keeping my eyes busy...
"Even when you've paid enough... Been put upon or been held up. With every single memory of... The good or the bad... Faces of luck. Don't lose any sleep tonight. I'm sure everything will be alright. You may win or lose...
October 28, 2005 - Clear Skies At Last...
Comments: Did you think I was lost? Not hardly. It has been so very long since the skies were clear by either day or night that I had pretty much given up hope. I had seen the Moon rising this morning, like a smile hung above the eastern horizon.
Could it be?
Although the day remained mostly cloudy, by mid-evening it was time to just quit working for awhile and unwind. When I stepped outside, it didn't take dark adaption for me to realize the skies were filled with stars and what looked like a cloud at first was actually the Milky Way. Grinning, I went out to the garage and pulled the big Meade round to my favourite observing spot.
It's been a very long time.
First the riches of Cassiopeia, NGC 637, NGC 654, NGC 663, NGC 659, Trumpler 1 and M103. Can you say "Aaaaah..."? NGC 7788, NGC 7790 and then NGC 7789. Now that feels good.... NGC 884 and NGC 869 came next and I was really feeling stress drop away. M31, M32 and M110... and the M33. By now I am well dark adapted and I am grinning as I fumble around locating NGC 7331 and Stephan's Quintet. The view will never, ever match what can be seen in the 31", but at less than half the aperture, I am not complaining.
My next stop is some new work in Perseus and I head for Zeta a drop in some power. NGC 1465 is one faint piece of work. A tiny, elongate smudge is about all I can pick up. The pair, NGC 1270 and 1275 are only slightly more bright, but the are much smaller. Just two tiny contrast changes. NGC 1058 fares much better and is totally recognizable as a galaxy structure at least! Back to Alpha and the NGC 1245 blows me away... This is one to report one. Very rich, large and well resolved!
And now? I can stand it no longer. Mars will be at its closest within the next 24 hours and I will take no chances of not being able to see it. My reward? Syrtis Major.
What more could one ask for?
"And to be yourself is all that you can do.... Yeah. To be yourself is all that you can do. To be yourself is all that you can do. To be yourself is all that you can do..."
October 19, 2005 - The Moon and Mars...
Comments: Tonight was the season finale of "Ghost Hunters" and you can bet that despite clear skies that I was there. It wouldn't have mattered much anyway, for the farmers are currently taking the crops off of the fields that adjoin the backyard and I will not take my prized study-grade Meade out with so much dust in the air. It won't be long until the rains wash it all away. When I walk out, I am enchanted with the vision of Mars rising alongside the Moon to the south. How beautiful they are together!!
And what is that noise?
Inside the garage, an old Celestron 114 scurries about on three battle-scarred legs peeking anxiously out the door window. I can see it in the moonlight, with its silly felt hood over the finderscope and the plastic bag around its favourite eyepiece. It is as road-worn as I sometimes feel... Scarred, battered, used. But it's my loving companion that doesn't mind a bit of dust and it lives to see the Moon and Mars.
And so we journey just outside the garage door. As always, I continue to be impressed with this scope that is old enough to drive itself. It's mount has been cobbled together, yet it still serves. Despite it's age the Moon is as crisp and clean as it was the very first time it saw the light. And the phase? Darn near the same. I sweep along the terminator, enjoying the eastern features as the shadows reverse. I take it to Mars and smile at the little red marble with the twists of brown. It sings the song of the Plieades...
And I listen.
Together we fly to the Andromeda Galaxy and walk the starry clusters of Cassiopeia. We visit the demon Algol and smile at Gamma Andromeda. We've been together for a long time, this scope and I.
And still it sings.
"Someone swears his true love until the end of time... Another runs away. Separate or united. Guilty or insane..."
October 18, 2005 - Mars...
Comments: Did you see the Moon and Mars together last night? WOW! I watched the Moon rise and really didn't have much intention of staying up late until I saw Mars rise after it.
So what was around? Poor stability for one. Even though the 12.5" Meade was fully stablized, the sky was not. Still, it was enough to tell that the features had changed somewhat and it won't be long now until Hellas Basin and Sytris Major come round for a really good look. Visually? Ssssh... It reminded me a lot of a red Jupiter last night. It had a banded appearance. Sinus Sabius? Even if the features weren't that hot...
The Moon and Mars most definately kept the night warm.
"Someone tries to hide himself... Down inside himself he prays."
October 17, 2005 - Partial Lunar Eclipse...
Comments: It wasn't supposed to happen in Ohio. It wasn't supposed to happen!! The predicted partial lunar eclipse path favoured the western half of the United States, and it wasn't supposed to be seen from mid-northern Ohio....
But there it was.
I was sitting outside during a "vampyre shift" break. I had gone out around 7:10 a.m. ESDT and was just sitting there on the park bench watching this lovely ivory colored Moon head towards the western horizon. While I sipped my coffee and huddled under my coat, I kept thinking that the color looked almost like it was penumbral. I knew the score, and figured we were just sliding through the cone of shadow and that I ought to be very happy that I was seeing what I was seeing.
Then I saw the western limb go flat.
What the?!? Figuring it was a trick of a wanting imagination, I headed right back inside to check the time... 7:20... and to get people to come out and confirm this for me. While I know the lunar features and know it was the western lunar hemisphere, those who were watching saw the left side (south) just go flat. There was absolutely no mistaking it. This was not the curvature of a solar day, this was just as flat as if someone had cut it with a knife.
Or the Earth's shadow...
Of all times not to have had my camera with me! So often times I have been told that things could not be seen from my latitude and longitude, yet I have pictures to prove that they were. Now all I have is my word.
There was a partial lunar eclipse in Ohio.
"Someone find salvation in everyone... Another only pain."
October 15, 2006 - At Malibar Farms and the Observatory...
Comments: Still workin' here, (like i'm ever gonna' stop for 17 more years...) but an odd Sunday off meant a chance to go be a little social and attend the "Halloweeked" star party with my friends at Malibar Farms. And clear skies meant it was only going to get better...
My hours meant that I didn't get as early a start as I would have liked, but the drive over was still beautiful. The Moon was rising and there was this great thing going on with Venus and Antares. It was so good to see everyone again! Scopes and people were everything and it was great to see everyone having such a good time. My intent was just to hide out and be quiet - but even though I didn't bring a telescope, it didn't happen.
Have binoculars, charts and NSN material - will travel. It was a great opportunity to interact with both couples and families and to teach just how "we find" what we seek. Often times I find myself reverting back to how I have written things in an article to see just how well it plays out with the public. Do simple things like extending your hand against the sky and saying "Look at the spot in the sky right beside your thumb with these binoculars." really work for someone with no knowledge of the sky?
The answer is yes.
Even with a very basic seasonal sky chart, it didn't take long to translate these shapes against what could be seen with a near Full Moon and have people "star hopping" for the very first time! And to make matters even more "down to Earth", they were the most simple and inexpensive binos that I own. Even a four year-old could do it!
Stuart and his friend Al were there also and I was really looking forward to talking with them both. Stu lent me his laser pointer to help and I so appreciated it. It was awesome to see Greg and his family and Curt, Trish and Tim as well. But I was keeping a watch on the time - cuz' I gotta' date.
Heading back over to the Observatory, I met with Jason and a friend he had visiting from CA. (you know me, always gotta' soft spot for them CA people.) I really enjoy Jason's company because he's able to externalize what I often cannot. He's very smart and patient enough to wait while my mind fills in the blanks it sometimes experiences. I guess part of the reason for these journals is to chronicle what a garden-variety observer goes through, and I'll be the first to tell you that so often what's in my brain is impossible for me to relate in speech. I don't know why this is - maybe it's a physical problem related with aging - but I can look right at something - see all the words right in my head - but can't speak them.
And he forgives my lapse of synapse.
Anyhow, he had requested a tour of the Observatory for his friend and I am very happy to comply. After all, how many wonderful folks out there have also treated me the same? We head in and open the dome while waiting on Mars to rise just a little bit more. I had brought some equipment with me to do some imaging of Mars, but never made it past a few camcorder images. The reason was quite clear - or unclear - enough as the combination between a warm, large telescope and a cool unstable atmosphere made it's presence known in a very big way. We had began our Mars observing about an hour earlier than I had all week and right now? You can't see very much.
No matter. We still had a great time just talking and taking long turns at the eyepiece waiting on a moment of stability. They were both patient and I love listening to how others have experienced things. By the time that Mars had risen enough to where we needed the lift, Jason had taken myriad images of just being here and I really admire his work. We were starting to see some details and where's my map?
You got it. At home on the coffee table with my sketch book.
No problem! I remembered that there was also a fairly decent one in the magazine in my car, so I headed down to get it and we were picking off some of the very same features that I had been watching all week long. But that clock keeps ticking and before things get really good and stable, it's time for these guys to head. Quite understandable since they had been all over Ohio that day!
We close things down and I am definately smiling as they leave. It's really a nice feeling to be able to share a place that you love with others and I am honored that they came tonight. As I head out, I think briefly about going back to Malibar... But I am very tired. It would be my luck that everyone would be gone by the time I got back and it's a long, long ride home. I have a friend waiting in CA as well... A friend that I cannot resist. We've played a good game together and it's almost finished. I owe it to him to not be so tired that I cannot complete what we have begun. Out of all the people in the world, he's the only one able to get what's in my brain to at least come out through my fingers. As much as I enjoy being out?
I've got promises to keep... And miles to go before I sleep.
"And to be yourself is all that you can do. To be yourself is all that you can do."
October 14, 2005 - The Moon and Mars...
Comments: I could not help myself. I knew the Moon would burn my eyes, but they are already burnt for editing tonnes of text. To me it is wonderful to be able to wander around and in the graceful Gassendi. I guess out of all the areas there, I still find Cape Kelvin the best. As I wander along Oceanus Procellarum, I find myself repeating an often done lunar walk and I end up admiring the thin, bright thread of ancient lava-tube, Schroeter's Valley.
Of course, I cannot leave without speaking to Mars. The features have now rotated slightly, offering a view of Meridiani Sinus, the blankness of Moab and the deep ruddy color of inward rotating Cydonia contrasting well with Niliacus Lacus. It won't be long until Syrtis Major shows itself now and I look forward to it and the Hellas Basin.
Perhaps if I stayed up all night?
"Some gets excited in chapel yard... And catch a boquet. Another lays a dozen white roses on a grave..."
October 13, 2005 - More Mars...
Comments: Right now, I'm fascinated. With another clear, but slightly unstable, night on my hands, I wait patiently until Mars has cleared most atmospheric crap. Skipping the Moon, I had left the 12.5" out to stablize and went directly for the 12.5mm Epic eyepiece.
Tonight I am armed with a sketchpad and delighted at the details. During a still moment, the "fingers" of Mare Erythraeum become quite prominent. The splotch of Solis Lacus is nearing the limb, but the open area Pyrhhae Regio is very well defined. Chyrse is nothing more than pale and the peninsula-like Xanthe just doesnt hold details. Nilaicus Lacus and Mare Acidalium seem to flow almost all together, but you can see some contrast change towards the Cydonia region.
Smiling, I look down at my sketch knowing that I will probably never do anything with it. Colored pencils do a very nice job, but I almost wish to have a broader range of oil pastels so that I could "furr" everything to give the true appearance of Mars. Watercolors would be good! And again I smile... How many years, Rabbit? How many years has it been since I felt the urge to turn a hand towards paper? Yeah. My notes are littered with fast sketchs of fields, cometary positions or a general shape of a galaxy structure, but it's been at least four years since I was so moved.
Mars will do that to you.
"Someone falls to pieces... Sleeping all alone. Some one kills the pain. Spinning in the silence... She finally drifts away."
October 12, 2005 - The Moon and Mars...
Comments: Did you think I had ran away and left you? Not hardly. It has been a very, very long time since the skies were clear. Over a week has passed now with dove grey above during the day and steel grey above during the night. I've seen neither Sun nor Moon and it has taxed my spirits.
Of course, a Wednesday night means that for one hour I belong to the television set and I was delighted that the "Ghost Hunters" had chosen Mansfield Reformatory for their tour. It's one that all Ohioans smile about, for we know where our ghost lurk and after hearing of other folks experiences, I will not set foot in the place. I have enough trouble with places that don't have such a bad reputation! But I'll watch... Oh, yes. I'll watch... And smile.
As the program aired, I began to see shadows outside the window, and they were not sinister ones. The Moon is back! During a commercial break, I let the H out for a run and grinned at the clearing skies. I'll be back.
And I'll bring a big friend with me.
Despite the 12.5" overwhelming ability to gather light, it has wonderful resolving power and when I first set eyes on the Moon, I was heading back for a filter. It has been so long since I have truly enjoyed the fine details around Plato and Copernicus. How long since I have climbed the little central peak in Bullialdus, or walked the mountain ranges? Of all the things there tonight, (hi, albategnius!) nothing sang and danced like Clavius. You ask me how many I can see with the 12.5mm Epic, and I will tell you 23. Of all the small interior craters and those upon the rim, 10 are exceedingly prominent. The best are a small chain which lay south of C and D and 7 of these are very clear. South of the J and N craters are also a nice collection and 5 more are able to be seen.
Should we count the ones in the walls as well?
Nah. Mars is getting high up in the east and it is a very steady night. Heading that way, I don't even switch eyepieces because there's no need. And I am stone, blown away. By now the scope is really stabilizing well and I am very impressed. This is actually a nice aperture for Mars. It's not as big or as bright as the 31" makes it, but it's just as detailed. Giving a low whistle, I recognize a lot of these features, but simply cannot tell you their proper names.
Forgive my simple minded descriptors, but there's all these little fingers reaching towards a brighter, washed out center. In this finger-like section, you can also see two lighter patches towards the polar cap and the other end is a striated, brownish smear. Nice, huh? Guess if I'm going to be more technical then I had better brush up of my Martian topography, right Chryse?
"Got out of town on a boat goin' to southern islands. Sailing a reach before a followin' sea. I was makin' for the trades on the outside, and the downhill run to Papeete. Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas... We got eighty feet of waterline, nicely making way. In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you. But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away.
September 29 - October 2 - "Hidden Hollow"
Comments: Are you ready? Then let's walk into anything and everything that I've been into for the last few days...
First let's set the stage. Here's the way that everything looks when it's quiet. That's the way it was when I spent most of Thursday morning and afternoon ferrying everything over that I thought we might possibly need, or anything that I knew we would need. The weather is beautiful, the forecast is great and it's only going to be a matter of time before we have guests.
Making my last run to Hale's Harley Davidson for some more door prizes, I took a last look around just really admiring this fine old place. It was now time for me to head back to the old ranchero and throw some clothes into a bag. I had left my cell phone on (for a change) and it had been ringing all day with questions. For weeks I had been answering e.mail and things were about to all come together in the blink of an eye.
On my last trip there, I get a phone call. This was from a fellow whom I knew was traveling a long way and that our happy road construction was not going to make finding us any easier. He told me where he was at and I told him to hang tight - I was five minutes away. When I pulled into the parking lot?
Oh, you know it...
There stands my friend Tom holding up a pair of socks! Needless to say, all the stress dropped away like shedding a skin and I got to laughing so hard I thought I'd burst. Leave it to this character to remember! Heading him in the right direction, there were folks waiting on me just as soon as I arrived. The good folks from NorthStar concessions were here and looking for a place to set up. As luck would have it, so was one of our guest speakers, her husband and some of our club members!! Pointing everyone in the right direction we all head out to turn this deserted place into a star party.
When we get tables and chairs ready, the speaker hall set up, trashcans placed, cabins ready to go, and other myriad details, we look up to see that our good friends from the Miami Valley Astronomical Society had arrived and were pitching in as well. One of their members, Mark, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer very recently, and one of his wishes was to spend the evening here and touring the skies through a big, big scope. On this particular weekend, I can say nothing but Divine Intervention was most surely at work. With so many details that I need to cover, I have little free time to aim the 31" and the fellow who was to be here had to work. So Who brought Tom here? You decide.
His 30" scope was at our disposal.
Amidst much laughter, the evening passed far too quickly. When Jerry arrived, he got the sound system ready to go, and even though he had to return to work, spent several hours touring our friends at the 31" as well. What an incredible night! The weather got cold and we were all chillin', but it was such a good time! We even had our guest speaker, Barb Hubal in on this! At one point, I used my cell phone to good advantage and ordered a pile of pizzas and a case of soda. They wouldn't deliver - but I will! We sat in the ClubHouse, ate until we couldn't hold anymore, and went back out to walk amoungst the stars.
Around about that time, one of our guests of honor arrived and I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to meet Brent Archinal. This man has so many credits tagged onto his name that I was afraid that a nobody like me would look pretty foolish trying to talk to him. Wrongo. The moment he smiled, I saw one of the most honest and genuine people I've ever met and he's just as familiar with this place as I am! Brent? Rock on, brother... The place is yours.
At 4:00 a.m. after countless deep sky objects, I knew I had to be back in hours so it was time for me to get some shut eye, right? Nope. Instead Tom and I headed to our local burgery and had us a fine dinner before we retired! With just three hours to go before registration opened, I managed a little sleep and woke up happy and ready to go.
Now it really is Friday. Grabbing some coffee and danish, I peeled Terry off the ClubHouse sofa and we got the day underway. We finished stuffing our registration packets with last minute things and created 30 new ones for last minute guests - at the last minute! We really had a terrific time talking and joking with one another. When Terry was comfortable with what was going on, I sneaked away. Love ya'.... But I've got to have a shower!
When I got back, other members had arrived to help and just that quick signs were set up to help direct our guests and the curtains hung in the speaker hall. Folks had already began to arrive and were off to claim their cabins and observing areas. The hours passed so fast getting everyone going that somewhere along the line I totally forgot that I was hungry and sleepy. With one more phone call, I was smiling again as Vic said he was on his way. At one point I looked up with a big smile on my face as I thought I had caught him, but found out quickly that it was Steve O'Meara! What a great guy...
By darkfall, most of our guests that were arriving today were here and we were ready to go lights out and I was also ready to go and talk with some of our guests. I had barely a chance to speak with Jason Shinn and Rick Schrantz, as well as many others whom I was looking forward to meeting.
Walking around in the dark was easy enough here because I at least know the way. I stopped here and there, making sure our guests had everything they needed and talking with many folks whom I was just meeting for the first time. I found Robert and Carl at last and was enjoying visiting with them when somebody grabbed me from behind!
Dang, doc... I thought I'd never find you. ;)
Giggling like a little school girl, we went here there and everywhere enjoying what was going on. Whenever this fellow is around? I have a good time. At one point, I was curious as to what was in the big scope so we went up to check it out. What can I say? You should see Mars in a pair of binoviewers. I froze into place and couldn't move. It looked like you could just reach your hand right out and wrap it around this ball of details. The more you watched? The more you saw. I can't remember the last time that I wanted my sketch book so badly!!
I finally did get out of the way and allow Vic a turn as well. I had a couple of requests for Bruce since I haven't had the opportunity to use the 31" since it had been recoated and he honored them. First off? NGC 7331...
Just like Mars, it looked like a picture. Such galactic perfection and that dust lane just smacks right out. Looking into the side of the eyepiece barrel, I started grinning because I could see a little group of galaxies and I was itchin' for Stephan's Quintet. Giving the scope over to Vic for awhile, I waited again and was going to move it to the galaxy group when Bruce explained that those weren't the Quints I was seeing! HUH?! He pointed out that this was another group of mag 17ish little buggers and all my mind's eye could see was that they looked alot like the Quints in my 12.5".
Then he moved the scope.
Holy mother of pearl. Where I have seen little nucleii and somtimes a hint of struture, there is now a writhing mass of galaxies that look like swimming tadpoles with their tails all curled around each other. It blew me away. I was really trying not to babble... And I doubt I said a word. But there was stuff there... Stuff there, folks, that I have never seen visually in my life!!!
Going back down to the ground, I was almost dizzy with what I had seen. Vic and I talked for awhile and looked through a couple of other scopes when I heard Bruce yell, "Tam? Abell's up." And I was back. Again, it's no great secret that I have devoted years of my life to studying the Perseus A galaxy cluster with a 12.5" telescope and working very hard at identifyng what can be seen. I've even used the 31" scope as well and now I'm here to tell you that the resurfacing the mirror made at least a magnitude or more difference in what can be seen. I was deeply and totally in love. At this point, I could hear or feel nothing. My mind was totally consumed with what I was seeing in the eyepiece and my hands ached for my notes. So many!! So many that I have never seen before and in such incredible detail that I could have called the structure shots in a heartbeat!
And beating my heart was... Slowly I came round, quit moving the scope and realized that I had not allowed my partner in crime a view as well. Apologizing, I moved out of the way and my head was just swimming with galaxies. When we went back down to the ground it swam even more as we visited with all the nice folks and saw everything you could possibly think of.
Around 4:00 - 4:30 a.m., I realized that I had to be back again in hours for both registration and to announce our guest speakers as well as deal with questions. I really did not want to leave, but I knew I had to. As soon as I hit that motel room door, I left a trail of clothes to the bed and was asleep in seconds.
When the wake-up call came less than three hours later, I hit the ground running. A fast shower, a little makeup and I'm good to go. Arriving in plenty of time, I left registration in Dave's capable hands and was off to start our programs for the day. When I walked up, I caught a sleepy face across the crowd and felt myself smiling again. Giving a wave, it was time for me to introduce our first guest speaker and find our next! Once Barb was off and running, there was a bit of a worry as I hadn't found Nate yet. I knew he would be there... But where? After a couple of anxious minutes, it was my great pleasure to make the accquaintance of Nate Cardarelli and have the opportunity to listen to him speak!
We took a short break before Jason and the Radio JOVE program began, and I wanted to show Nate the observatory. As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to catch both he and his wife along with Barb Hubal and her husband in ths shot while Nate had the opportunity to have a look at the Sun in H-alpha. Two very nice prominences were in view and I cannot thank Barb enough for bring along her equipment, nor can I thank Nate enough for having the whole audience laughing at his antics! What a very special day...
When I walked past the dome, Bruce had things open and just shining. He and a couple of other club members were taking care of some last minute things that needed to be fixed and I checked in at the ClubHouse before heading back for the next speaker. Everything is in capable hands and we are good to go.
This is a rather candid shot of Jason, but I'm here to tell you that this is one sharp young man. As he went through his program, I watched the faces around me and everyone was on the edge of their seats listening to not only what he had to say - but to what Radio JOVE can do as well. There wasn't a straight face in the house when he told us about how the last big X class flare brought him out of the shower! He did a tremendous job and everyone was fascinated with the programmed computers he had left running in the Mohican Lodge. This is an awesome program and Jason is one of their finest representatives!
While we take a short break, I start thinking about you, Mr. Wizard... And wishing how much you could have been here. It's been a long and winding road that we both have shared, and how I wish I could have shared this with you!! Don't stay away next time... Please?
The minutes fly and as soon as things are ready to go again... Let's rock!
This lovely lady you have seen before. Terry knew that I hadn't had a chance to eat or even be off my feet for almost two days, and she is my total rock. Every single time I thought I was stumbling, I would look up and see her smiling my way. So without further ado, I left the audience in the very wonderful hands of Terry Mann and sneaked around the curtain to get a shot of her. (hey, terry? i still like this one best... ;) When she's rolling with the aurora program, I head out front to grab a sandwich and a coke, but don't even get a chance to sit down before I spill it all over myself! Once a klutz? Always a klutz. Mopping myself up, I swallow my sandwich whole and we're off to introduce Brent.
Brent Archinal begins telling about his work, and I'm smiling while I'm drying. What a great guy! Terry is beside me and we are both laughing at a Hershey High. Everybody is captured by what he's saying and then? Out of nowhere the camp generator decides it's time to cycle up and I can't hear him! Ducking out, I went in search of our sound man - but can't find him! Heading back in, I remember watching while he set things up and a couple of power squeals that would do a heavy metal band justice later, Jason and I had it to where you could hear him and I took off to see if we couldn't cut the generator. Somewhere in all the fracus, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of Brent, so I hope Bob Bunge (a one time member) will forgive me for using his. This is one of the best that I've ever seen of Brent and as you can see, he's quite familiar with the scope!
Wonder why? ;)
Now everything is quiet again and it's time to introduce the legendary Stephen James O'Meara. His talk had everyone laughing, including me! It was all about truly observing and for the last two days I had been observing Steve. Not only is the man a legend, but he is one of the nicest, kindest, most interesting people I have ever met. If you have a chance to talk with him, he gives you his undivided attention and makes you feel like you are one of the most special people in the world. Needless to say, he was 100% part of everything going on and he brought back magic to everything and everyone he touched. For you, Steve 'O? Anything... We cannot thank you enough for being who you are.
Now comes the time for me to say something. At this point, nothing that I had written was going to compare with what was in my heart so I laid down my notes and spoke. The article written about Hidden Hollow by Phil Harrington had just broke today in the latest issue of Astronomy Magazine, and again, it felt like Divine Intervention was present. I tried my best not to cry as I looked at the audience. We owe a debt of gratitude to our club members for helping to get things ready, and before me are the very people who made it all possible. Without our guest speakers, our vendors, the fantastic people who donated prizes and the unfailing generousity and support of the people in front of me - none of this could have happened. I hope for once that what was in my heart came out of my mouth.
When I am done, it is now time for the prizes and handfuls of tickets are waiting. The most fair person in the world, Joe, is right beside me and he draws the winning tickets. How wonderful it is to give away all of these terrific things!! And our new friend Jerry.... is pure kid luck. ;)
As things wrap up, Rick Schrantz is giving another astrophoto workshop thanks to public demand. Folks were very impressed with his presentation, but as much as I'd like to watch, I've got some duties I have to attend to. Tired? Yeah. It was catching up with me in a big way. I knew that so little sleep had to have my blood pressure higher than the PSI in a Craftsman air compressor, so I just eventually locked things up, grabbed Jason and made a run for the border. I grabbed my coat, swallowed my pills, and again thought of Mr. Wizard while I at least talked him into Taco Bell! It was great to learn we had so much in common, and by the time we got back, it was getting dark.
Time for me to let my hair down.
Once everything was good to go redlight, I headed straight towards a telescope in the observing field. He wasn't there, but I knew he wasn't going to get mad if I used his eyepieces or his scope. I played around for awhile, and it wasn't long until Vic was back and the 12.5" Discovery dob was handed back over to his capable hands. Name it? We went there. For hours we had a wonderful time just really observing and enjoying the sky. Later we were off to visit more folks and telescopes, and everybody knows Doc.
Party? You betcha'. The pressure was off and this is the first time I have felt so relaxed in days. It felt so good just to leave everything up to him and follow along. If we need something? I know where to find it. If I need something? He knows where to find it. The hours passed so fast!! We enjoyed incomparable views of Mars through the 31" and spent a great deal of time with Tom and his 30". I am so proud of Vic, because he's so daggone smart! I could hang around this dude forever. Be it viewing the "Horsehead" with new friends from the CAS, or taking the lift up to the eyepiece for the M42. There's very few people who can make me smile like this guy does.
It's nearing dawn and Brent catches me before he leaves and asks if I'd like to go out for breakfast. Darn right I would. I'm not driving back to the motel tonight, but you can bet you Phd that I'll be there! Inviting others to join us as well, I am very reluctant for the night to end. I really don't want to say goodnight for fear it is goodbye for another year... But sleep catches up with me and it's my turn to take the ClubHouse sofa.
Three hours later, I'm up and ticking like a Timex watch. Other members are arriving to help with clean-up and I gotta' head back for a shower, close my motel room and meet Brent. Did I make it? Of course. I may be very little in my life, but if I tell you I will be there, I will. Brent and I sat outside talking for awhile. Sometimes I wish I could get over my shyness (yep. me.) and ask him all the things I wanted to know, but it's not long until other join us. The conversation doesn't go over my head, (very little does, and if it did? i would ask what the heck you were talking about) but I somehow feel a little out of place... But ya' know what? I'm just proud as punch to be sitting next to Brent!!
As we say our final goodbyes, I realize I must return and make sure everything is taken care of and help with what isn't. As I look out over the hills, I hope someone is still there so I may say goodbye... And there he is. Doc? You make me smile and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to find me again.
When I return for the last time, it is to say goodbye to the very last of our guests. I am glad that Tom is still here, because Someone guided his way here for many resaons. When the camp is quiet once again, you cannot even tell we have been here. Things were a fantastic success, and how very much I wish you were here. I have met so many wonderful people in the last four days and had the time of my life. I follow Tom back to the highway where he goes north and I go south. We wave as we part our separate ways once again. There has only been one other time in my life when I was so willing to stay up all night and greet the morning of the coming days...
The time I spent with you.
"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time.... You understand now why you came this way. 'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small... But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day. So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a dyin'. And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain... I have my ship, and all its flags are a flyin'. It's all that I have left, and Music is its name.