June 30, 2006 - At The Observatory: Church Camp...
Comments: Yeah. I've been around, folks. Still stargazing, but doing mostly sitting on the stepladder and watching the Moon, the Great Red spot and the little shadows on Jupiter. It's been a bad week and pain is my constant companion. Believe it or not, it makes me feel terrible when I can't keep up my observing reports or even e.mail correspondence... And I'm scared of the day when I can't bounce back again.
As you well know, I love the Observatory and the Hidden Hollow campgrounds. Nothing on Earth makes me happier than to give a herd of young folks an opportunity that they may never have again in their lives, so it's mighty hard for me to say "No" to three nights of programs. Thanks to the strength of Joe, Greg and Kamin tonight looks like our best shot at being able to give these young folks a view.
And boy... Did we have a crowd!
Young folks of all ages through the teens were present and ready to be taken on an adventure to the Moon and Jupiter. They filled the doorway, they filled the sidewalks, they filled the camp! Everyone was full of questions and we were there to answer them as well as provide an opportunity to see through a telescope.
With a full audience of 150, it's is all we can do to take them in waves. And that is how they seem to come - in tidal waves. ;) But, luck would have it that the skies were clear and the opportunity was there. How can you refuse such a wonderful bunch of young minds?
Although the hour kept growing later and later, they seemed to keep pouring in. Joe and I chased the Moon until it had long set, and Greg chased Jupiter until it got to the point the 31" could no longer watch it with safety for the lift passengers. Greg reaimed at the M4, I traded Joe off at the door and went out to use the 10" to aim at some deep sky delights in Scorpius and Saggitarius. Finally, long after the old day had ended and the new began, the last of the happy campers had seen and it was time to pack it up.
Elated, but with my left arm on fire, I began putting things away.... and the unthinkable happened. The telescope I had been using got away from me. I managed to stop it before really bad damage happened, but I was sick to see I had dented one of the outer tube rings and I know it lost its collimation. Sick at heart, I called Joe and Greg to help me right it and Sean pitched in as well. I couldn't feel any worse if you had ripped my own heart out and I would have given anything to have stopped it.
After having been assured that it was nothing that couldn't be fixed, I quit feeling like all I wanted to do was cry and head home. John and Bruce? If you read this, you will never know how sorry I am. By the time I had made Lexington, I was in trouble even driving. I thank my family so much for taking care of me and seeing that I made it safely in, changed, and given the proper drugs and ice to recover. It was hours until the pain receeded enough to sleep and I become even more depressed because I know I won't be able to make it to McKinley Museum's Observatory the next day... and very likely not even Public Night.
My apologies to you all when my body fails. My mind wants so much to go on... But there are times when I cannot not even type. I hate myself... And if I have to give up using a telescope because I can't handle it anymore?
Then... I don't know what will become of me.
"I wish.... I wish I could cry. I wish... I wish I could... Goodbye."
June 24, 2006 - Incredible Southern Skies!
Comments: Out of all the things the storm did, the one thing it didn't do was trash the pool. Normally I would have expected to have to hike 2 acres to retrieve the solar cover from the woods, or spend three days dredging limbs, leaves and buds from it. Thank goodness for down drafts, eh? A little skimming and we're back in business.
So, I did what anyone would do on a warm Saturday night... Waited for dark and put my old hide in that warm, steamy water! I figured the skies wouldn't be that great, but the longer I swam the darker it got... And the more stars came out to play. When you can look up without your glasses and see so many stars you know it's a good night. And when you can see stars down on the southern horizon?
You know it's gonna' be a great one.
By the time Scorpius sat prime I was dry, fed and had the 12.5 out. Open clusters were the name of the game - NGC 6134, NGC 6167 and a real beauty - NGC 6193 which had enough different magnitudes and colors in it to really take my eye! NGC 6204, NGC 6250 and NGC 6259... And I am here to tell you that NGC 6231 and Trumpler 24 are outstanding!! After months of galaxies, it sure is nice to see so many stars well resolved. NGC 6322 is just another faint patch of little stars, but NGC 6388 is a suprisingly bright and compact little globular cluster!
Trumpler 29 isn't bad. NGC 6441 looks like a little round nebulousity with a bright orange star toasting the view... But the real charmed find? NGC 6302. That one was worth taking the power out for. The central star is quite easy but the structure is what really rocks in this one! It's a planetary nebula that has a really odd shape, almost like a pinched peanut. The more you watch it, the more you pick out brighter and fainter areas in it. Just slightly off center is like two bright ribbons in a )( pattern for lack of a better explanation. This really stands out from the raggedy looking edges and amorphus shape. But I'm going back to NGC 6231...
Cuz' the sparkling photons from this one rocks!
"I wish... I wish I could fly."
June 23, 2006 - Touring With Binoculars....
Comments: Ohio had been lashed with storms. It wasn't a tornado, but it certainly was the closest thing I've ever seen. Just the afternoon before I had hustled to do my outside chores and nap in the recliner for awhile. I hadn't been asleep more than 15 minutes until I heard H scream and woke up to watch my outdoor table pick itself up off the deck and simply hang in mid air. On it was a heavy pot of flowers, and as the table levitated the flowers slid to one side and the table tilted and flew like an unseen hand had thrown it. A split second later, the four chairs joined it and my trashcans as well. They were all swirling like they were caught in a blender!
Now wide awake, I went to the window and watched as huge gusts of wind bowed trees far to large to be bent like that. Branches were coming down everywhere and all manner of debris was flying. But there's no hail! Just rain... Rain coming down in sheets - sheets so hard they were pounding everything flat. I went to all four cardinal directions to make sure there was no funnel cloud and it was about then that I noticed the power was also gone. For about 15 minutes, the wind and rain relentlessly pounding the landscape. According to later reports, it reached 90 miles an hour and thanks to my adventuresome son who went out for pizza and came home with photographs - the storm had flattened us. Hey! No power is a good excuse to order pizza and by the time he got back the generator was up and running and at least the basics were restored.
By the next day things were cleared to passing, services were back up and the sky cleared later in the evening. Although there were still a few patchy clouds here and there, it certainly didn't disturb the view with binoculars and it felt great to be outside and enjoy all that is bright and beautiful with stereo eyes.
At least the stars didn't get swept away!
"And I still feel the same..."
June 20, 2006 - Fireflies and Stars...
Comments: Although there were patchy clouds tonight, it was still wonderful outside. The weather has been hot and sudden storms sweep out of nowhere. I knew the time would come when I would be swimming again. Summer Solstice is a tangible thing - waiting on the edges of the terminator between light and dark.
Time for me to Drown...
I am an unusual swimmer. At times I will do purposeful laps in an effort to get my strength and at other times I am quiescent. But, no matter when I am in the water, I never allow myself to touch the bottom. I guess it's foolish, but in my mind it doesn't matter if the water is four feet deep or forty.
It's my abyss.
And floating on the surface are the clouds and stars - their cold, hard light reflected on the ripples. Sometimes hidden from view... Jupiter dances and shimmers in a hundred places, its light caught in waves and mixing with Arcturus. At times when I am still I can see Ursa Major distorted by my own diffraction, or the light of Vega cast on the waves at a crazy angle. Sometimes I let the peace surround me as I float - a state of almost sensory deprivation except for the few bright points of light overhead between the moving clouds. Clouds are like dreams floating across the starry skies of the mind... And sometimes I submerge - cast away in a place which envelopes me like heavy space - where there is no up or down - no air to breathe.
And rising from the fields are the fireflies... Decorating the branches of the great pine like phosphorent Christmas lights. You can see them from beneath the water. Some seem to soar towards the stars, only to flameout before they reach their goal. They are like little meteors decorating the face of the night...
An invitation to drift away.
"Nothing left for me to do..."
June17, 2006 - Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Apollo Rendezvous and John Bryant State Park
Comments: After having slept so soundly that you could barely tell I had been in the bed, I hustled into the shower and drip dried while having room service breakfast. It's time to head to Boonshoft Museum and Apollo Rendezvous!
If you've never been here, it is truly a great time. The members of the MVAS adopted me over a year ago and you'll never meet a nicer group of people. The program they put on here each year has been in progress for 26 years and everything operates smoothly. The layout is great, the organization is beyond compare and the genuine friendliness makes this one of the premier events to attend. You can't walk in the door without meeting someone you know!
And how wonderful it is to see them again, eh?
The night before Terry had introduced me to this gentleman, and I can't say enough good things about Mr. Al Nagler. He's not only an incredibly nice person, but the absolute guru on optics. What a thrill it is to meet him in person and listen to him speak! But that's not all... Because as luck would have it, it was also my great privelege to spend several hours later that night with Al observing. What a great day!
And it's off to listen to all the great talks and view the exhibits. The more I wander around the more I see people that I have known and loved for a very long time. From speeches to planetarium programs... From meteor exhibits to vendors... From boxed lunches to swap meets... This place has it all. And how I smile when people read my name tag and begin to put two and two together! I can't tell you what a honour it is to have someone like John Chumak congratulate you on your book, or to have so many fine folks and big names who have read it! I don't think I've blushed so much in a very long time... And it was also my pleasure to meet the editor of "Astronomy" magazine - Dave Eicher.
And to walk away with a door prize. ;)
Needless to say, it's hard to cram into words everything that went on that day. I can't thank Al Mitterling enough, for one of my passions is the collection of meteorites. Me? Oh, those big honking pieces are great - but I like rarity. I would rather have a speck of something very rare and unusual than a big, purty paperweight. Although some of those big ones were also quite rare there are way outside my price range, brothers! And what a beautiful room full exhibit... A meteor-lover's paradise!
When the very busy day ends, it is time to head out to John Bryant State Park for the BBQ and Stargaze. I would also like to thank Mark F. (a.k.a. "Frosty") for taking me under his wing and generously offering the hospitality of his home for the evening. Once we had changed into "cooler" clothing, it was time to take advantage of the "Frosty Mug Theory" and let the hair down and enjoy the evening! And what great company... Joe T., John D., and just many, many others that I have meet and really, really like. These guys are great!
The evening was on the hazy side, but good enough to do some observing. After having stuffed with great food, telescopes were set up and it was a great opportunity to just walk around and enjoy everyone. John Chumak took me a tour of his private observatory where he does all those great images and his personality comes right out of every square inch of the dome. Club scopes, such as the Maury Childs Observatory and the incredible 20 ft. refractor... And personal scopes galore. Do you know what an honour it is to share the same eyepiece with Al Nagler? Or just to sit around and talk with him... Such a great guy!
Again, the hours pass so quickly. The skies slip away, but not the company. Charlie had won the "BIG Binoculars" from Oberwerks and he's such a deserving guy. The refreshments flowed freely along with "Tarkany's World Famous Nachos"... And the laughter didn't stop until well past the wee hours and darn near dawn! Mark and I sit outside and talk for awhile longer before going to bed and again... I don't think I moved once I hit the sheets. I remember waking up when the Sun came up - but my head wasn't ready yet. A couple of hours later, a shower and a cup of coffee and I was ready to hit the road again... And not get lost.
For my 2006 adventures in Dayton? I give my most sincere thanks to all the wonderful folks that made the weekend great. There are so many names - so many! And I want each and every one of you to know just how special it was to see you again and to enjoy your company!
You know who you are. ;)
"And I still feel the same."
June 16, 2006 - Dayton, Ohio: National Air Force Museum and Apollo Rendezvous
Comments: On the road again? You betcha'. It was a little difficult for me to get off to an early start, but once you get me rollin' I won't stop until I drop. First order of the day? Head southwest for a couple of hours and enjoy the National Air Force Museum with Dave!
Had I known that things would have changed so much in just the few years since I had been there last, I would have arrived far earlier. Dave was waiting for me in a shady spot and the moment I arrived, off we went. So much to see! Dave had already been here for two days and he knew exactly what would capture my fancy and that's straight where we headed.
Well, sort of...
It's hard to describe the true grandeur of this place. Every available space is taken up by one form of aircraft or another - from huge planes with wing spans ranging into hundreds of yards to small fighters and historic pieces. One leads to another and another and another... And just seeing these as you remember them from news pieces draws you on. I'm serious! Who amoungst us could not want to stand and marvel over the "Memphis Belle" or just look at a gigantic cargo plane and wonder how on earth it could even fly? When you catch a glimpse of a Meig or a Blackbird you are drawn to it...
Of course, Dave knows me well and he knew that I would do everything but drop to my knees the moment we entered this exhibit. Not since I visited Kennedy Space Center many, many years ago have I see this - or anything remotely like it! While it's hard to judge scale by a photograph, know that I am close to 6 feet tall and if I were to stand at the base of one of those rockets that you would barely be able to see me. As Dave takes me round to the open elevator that lifts us up to an observering galley, I can't help but laugh out loud. How like an astronaut would feel while being lifted up the gantry to prepare for flight!!
The things that awaited us up there were almost mind blowing. Here are some of the very first experiments of putting man into suborbital space. Can you imagine putting yourself into the gondola of the "Star Gazer" ballon and lifting off? Can you conceieve being 82,000 feet above solid ground in this thing? In a pressure suit using a telescope? Wow! It held two people and the very thought of the kind of courage that it would take to do that just blows my mind...
Of course, there are many other things here such as a replica of Sputnik which really captures my imagination. It is just beautiful to stand on the gallery and look down at all these magnificent aircraft. When we go back down it is to have a look at other history making aircraft and you know where I'm headed!
This is the original Apollo 15. How I wish that it could be touched! When you see these things, such as the Gemini and Mercury command modules, you are struck anew at just how much cojones it took to fly. When you see the insides, you can understand. Heck, my car is more technical looking! It's a jump seat - with toggle switches and a safety belt. Honest! My gosh what an adrenline rush... Take me!
And the time passes much too quickly before the museum closes. You can bet the next time that Dave offers me a tour of the Air Force Museum that I will be there much earlier. His knowledge of the aircraft themselves is extremely impressive and if I could have changed things I would have been there where the place opened!
We head back out on the road to find our respective motels and to meet Terry Mann for dinner. Terry is also a longstanding friend of Dave's and how wonderful it is for us all to sit and laugh around a table loaded with great food! Again, the time passes far too fast and we are headed back to change clothes and on to the Boonshoft Museum for the opening night of Apollo Rendezvous.
Terry and I both participate in the region Astronomical League meeting and how fantastic it is to see so many friends that I have made over the years once again - and to make new ones! Once the meeting ends, we are off to wait on sky dark and as I take some of my swap meet treasures to the car I realize that I have lost my daggone motel room "key". Of course, doing something stupid like that totally trashes my mood and it wasn't very long until I could feel the old familiar strains of "over tired" come into play. Thank the stars for handrails, because I about bit the big one coming down a set of steps and that just really drove home the point that I needed to go get off the old feet for awhile.
Bidding everyone good night, Dave follows me back to make sure I don't have any problems gaining re-entry to my room and the admissions clerk had a bit of a joke at my expense. I really believed I had to sleep in my car! But all is well that ends well... A couple of cold beers back in the security of my room was all that was needed.
"Yesterday the sky was you..."
June 15, 2006 - Around 110 Virginis...
Comments: It's getting late in the year to be doing my Herschel's in Virgo - but better late than never, amigos. Time to get the 12.5 out again with the 26mm for location, and almost exclusively the 12.3mm for studies. Time in? 10:30 ish.... Local sky conditions are limiting magnitude 5 - but stability isn't real great tonight.
There's a galactic trail I'm anxious to follow and it starts northeast of 110 Virginis. First up is NGC 5864, or H II.585. I find it to be a rather small, but wonderfully slender edge-on presentation with a slight condensation in the core region and no dark dustlane visible. To its southwest in NGC 5854, (H III.544) which is darn near a replicant. Precisely east of 110 is NGC 5838 (H II.542) which just blows the others out of the water in terms of brightness. Far larger and brighter, this inclined spiral show little brightening towards the core region.
Another hop south brings on a pair - NGC 5846 (H I.128) and NGC 5850 (H II.543). The brightest is 5846, and its an elliptical that is small with a concentrated center region. To the east/southest is 5850, which is far fainter but considerably larger. The trick to catching a slight arm structure to this galaxy is to simply put the 5846 in the top of the field and look at its edges. When you do, averted vision will catch a slight S-structure to the 5850 and not just its slightly brighter core. Don't look directly at it, or you will lose the arm structure.
Back to 110 and to the south/southwest for NGC 5806 (H II.539). Slender of build, this inclined spiral shows a really nice nucleus structure, but no arms. Right on the edge to the southeast is NGC 5814 (H I.127). Just another elliptical, but very elongated. My last hop is for NGC 5831 (H II.540) and this teeny-tiny elliptical isn't exactly a show stopper. Very faint and round... And round... And round we go...
Right back to that beautiful edge-on - NGC 5838.
"Was it something that I said? Was it something someone said?"
June 14, 2006 - Touring Libra...
Comments: A very nice, exceptionally transparent night here. I needed to do a little research work in the constellation of Libra and tonight my choice was the 12.5 Meade, the 26mm for locating and the 12.3mm for study. A sweet and perfect VLM of 6, clarity 10/10 and stability 9/10. Time in? About 10:30...
First object up is just southwest of Beta Librae - NGC 5885. Perfectly round, this spiral galaxy has a definate concentrated core region haloed by what could possibly be some very compact arm structure. Also known as H III.116, this galaxy is a little tough for even larger aperture because of a distracting star... Actually many of them! Very nice field... I find it to be somewhat brighter than the listing I have as magnitude 12.5 - maybe just because it really is a transparent evening.
Next is further southwest - NGC 5861. What we have here is a very elongated spiral with another bright nucleus. This time, H II.192 is fainter - but not without structure. The field around it is also very stellar, but take the time to look at those stars and relax the eye. What I am picking up is some brighter patchiness in the outside edges of the structure.
South of Beta is NGC 5915 and it's a little, little one! Although it's bright enough to be seen easy and seems to be a compact spiral, it also has a companion that is not so easy. NGC 5916A seems to be interacting with the parent galaxy and would appear to be nothing more than an extension to to west. Also desginated NGC 5916, but space well to the south is nothing more than a faint smudge that requires aversion and patience to catch.
About a degree and a half southwest is NGC 5878 - H III.786. Now here's a jimdandy! Very bright even at lowest power, this slender spiral stands straight up with a north/south orientation and a very distracting distracting visual double to the east/northeast. While the texture seems very even at first, it is much brighter along the core region and is probably a barred spiral that's so inclined as to appear almost edge-on. Very sweet! About another half degree southeast is pairing NGC 5880/83... Either I am going crazy of what we have here is a super-faint, very small spiral. I simply do not see two and I'm not exactly what you'd call confident on the one!
Last hop for tonight was around a degree south for NGC 5892. Again, this is one really tough call. In a field of recognizably patterned stars, what I can see of this one isn't anything more than a very faint glow which requires a whole lot of aversion around a very small, not so bright nucleus region. No structure whatsoever. If I were one of the old-timers, I would say that this was a "nebulous star" - it's that tough. I probably should have pushed more magnification on it, but right now? I feel like I've had a very productive night.
Dancing through Libra is tough enough with Jupiter light polluting the sky... ;)
"All those yesterdays... Coming around."
June 12, 2006 - Before the Moonlight...
Comments: A clear night and time to enjoy it before the Moon rises! Same old vampyre... Different hours. Quite happily I pulled the 12.5 round to my favourite observing area and just couldn't wait until it got dark. Right now the M51 is absolutely prime time and you know what?
That's right where I'm headed.
Around 10:00 or so, it was dark enough and I probably spent 30 minutes just staring into the "Whirlpool". Perhaps the finest aperture for this galaxy is a 12" scope and the structure just snaps right out. The NGC 5195 just glows... When I could tear myself away, I was also very, very pleased to see the M97. How long has it been? With the 12.3mm widefield eyepiece, it is really stunning. M108... M109... M101... M63. These are truly all awesome galaxies - bright and beautiful. And what of the M81 and M82?
My charmed find for the night was NGC 3077. Greg has been working around in this field and I want to have a look as well. It's not much besides a fairly bright elliptical - more round than elongated - like a big, phat unresolved globular cluster in a small telescope If this is the one, it sure is cool!
Right on, brother...
"And you are...
June 12, 2006 - The Moonlight Vampyre...
Comments: And again a clear night! I don't know why, but I certainly enjoy it. Somewhere around midnight I was standing outside on the deck, enjoy the cool and quiet... Contemplating life as a vampyre. I watch H run in and out of the cold blue shadows, looking like a overly large black wolf on the prowl. This really wouldn't be so bad, you know. I could use this blanket around my shoulders like a cape and prey upon the unwary during their sleep. Living in the moonlight and chasing stars wouldn't be so awful would it?
"I walk the streets of Japan til' I get lost... Cuz' it doesn't remind me of anything. With a grave yard tan and carryin' a cross... Cuz' it doesn't remind me of anything."
I could raise cows and eat them. I do anyway. And goodness only knows at the price of red meat that one could become a "overnight" entrepreneur just giving the leftovers to the carnivores. ;)
As I finish my coffee and set the telescope out, I realize truly what it is that I like about the Moon. It is tangible. This great ivory colored orb is another world... So close we can almost reach out and touch it. Just like the Sun is a nearby star. And it is time for me to have a look at the distant stars as I take the time to visit with a few old favourites - Polaris, Albireo, Ruchbah, Ras Algethi and Omicron Cygni 2. Tonight it is the "Rose Moon" and you can smell them in bloom everywhere. Wonderful wild tangles of pinks and stately manicured reds. It's a wonderful thing being outside in the quiet moonlit night...
But even vampyres have to leave for work sometime.
"You traveled far... Like a star."
June 10, 2006 - Antares and the Moon...
Comments: I don't exactly understand why the skies are grey all day right now, but clear off at night. But, just because I don't understand doesn't mean I'm complainin'!
Tonight Antares is less than a degree north of the Moon and even if it's not an occultation event from here, it's still a very pretty thing to see... Really quite awesome in binoculars!
"You traveled very far..."
June 9, 2006 - The "Man In The Moon"...
Comments: The weather has been its usual self here. Come and go storms... hail... winds. Once in awhile the skies will clear and the Sun will peek through for awhile - but not for long. The mild temperatures make sitting outside at night very pleasant and it has been a very, very long time since I've picked up the guitar.
I like the smell of the damp earth and the cut grass. There is tranquil beauty in creating, feeling, and listening to harmonics... Just as there is in watching the ivory Moon light up the moving clouds as it rises ever higher. For a moment here and there, Jupiter will shine through... And my mind forever speaks the names of the stars I see: Cor Caroli, Dubhe, Merak, Mizar, Alcore, Phecda, Arcturus, Spica, Antares...
As I play quietly to myself, I watch as the Moon appears from between the clouds. As always, I am taken by the way it never appears twice in the same way. What is the line?
"Swear not by the Moon... The inconstant Moon. That thy love prove likewise as variable."
It is nearly Full... Yet tonight I do not see maria - only the face of the Man In The Moon. Isn't it funny how sometimes things just work out that you see things differently? I struggled for the longest time to see "the face" - yet tonight the face is all I can see. A friend had sent me this line and it echoes through my head as the last chord dies away in the hollow body of the guitar...
"Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night; For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night Whiter than new snow on a raven's back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night, Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night. And pay no worship to the garish sun."
I sit and watch for awhile longer and the songs I play turn further away from the alternative rock which I love - back to the folk and soul roots that I learned first...
"Bright are the stars that shine... Dark is the sky. I know this love of mine... Will never die."
My hands are tiring and I can hear myself dropping chords here and there. The clouds are silver fleece light by the Moon and blue shadows fall everywhere. I smile when I can no longer feel the frets beneath my fingertips. Pain is relative. Once it passes, only numbness remains... And that is the mark of a guitarist. As I watch the Moon I hear the music progress up through the years again - more modern, yet with a sadder tone... Slides that I had thought my hands had forgotten were remembered... Songs brought forth from long distant catalogs of memory. Tunes that I had not thought of, nor played in years... Offered up to a distant shining orb.
"What is it in thee, oh Moon... That should move my heart so potently?"
Perhaps it is nothing more than a warm night, It could be just the peace of knowing that you've accomplished a difficult task and done it well. It might be vibrations from a well-loved and used guitar, or the smell of roses in bloom.
And it could be The Man In The Moon.
"No matter how far away you are... I can still hear you when you dream."
June 5, 2006 - Back to the Moon...
Comments: Same day? Of course. I'm back before lunch with every intention of checking out the solar surface - until I sat down. Remind me that cats are toxic, will you? I don't even like cats and even Z was in on the conspiracy today!
"Wait until she sits down... And then get on her lap. The second she falls asleep, give me the high sign and we'll party."
Fortunately, I did wake up a few hours later rather than cruise the rest of the week on autopilot. A little too late in the day to do much more than work on the new manuscript for awhile, respond to the e.mail that had gathered and fix something to eat. By the time nightfall arrived I had had enough of working for the night and day and I think a little more Moon is in order!
Tonight it is Plato. As I watch, old memories come flooding back to me. I remember so much wanting to please and really throwing the power on this lovely feature seeking its tiny interior craters. What good times those were! Seeing just how close I could push the Dawe's limit on doubles and counting stars in the M44. Ah, well...
Life goes on.
"All of those yesterdays... Coming around."
June 5, 2006 - The "Vampyre" and Cassiopeia...
Comments: I don't know where yesterday went. I knew I was pushing myself to work a full day, go to the Observatory and then come back here and observe. But, you know what? To hell with it. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? It might mean my sight... Or my ability to stand. So I will do what I want to do while I can still do it.
Even if it means having to sleep almost 24 hours straight to regroup, eh?
Yep. The kid didn't even get up yesterday. I remember eating because I was hungry and finding the sandbox - but very little else. It was perhaps the influence of a large, grey tabby cat - or maybe it was just sheer exhaustion - but I refused to wake up until just a few hours before I had to leave for work on vampyre. H was doing everything but the St. Vidas dance when I walked into the living room, and while he ran I watched the setting Moon while I made myself a pot of coffee and took a shower. Better go check the e.mail and if time permits?
A few more stars....
Tonight I did not venture any further than the driveway. It took all of about three minutes to open the garage door, wheel the 12.5 outside and uncover it. Without even waiting for cooldown, I just took the dustcover off the 32mm and turned it towards Cassiopeia. Although I cannot remember all of those great open cluster's names... I can never forget NGC 457, NGC 7789, M52, and M103. I can see that Cygnus is beginning to clear the house from this position and the thought immediately comes to mind to move the scope to the west side yard... But I also know if I do that I'll lose track of time and be late for work. No matter. I've had my time with the stars...
And I'm ready to face anything again.
"When I'm down...."
June 2, 2006 - At the Observatory... The Scorpion Still Stings...
Comments: What began as a beautfiul day weather-wise, was not quite so beautiful as the time drew near for our monthly public night at the Warren Rupp Observatory. As usual, I am running a bit late - but I'm not worried about it. We are one heck of a lot less formal than we used to be and everyone understands when you have to work.
I rain through the rain most of the way, but by the time I get near Mansfield the clouds were starting to break up. There was a wedding at Sky View Lodge and usually that means a great attendance, but no one was much interested in being dressed in good clothes and messing around outside... No one, that is... Except for Robert, Keith, Dave, Terry, Joe, Greg and me. It didn't take very long to discuss what little business needed to be taken care of and then on the the fun part...
The "Taurus" meeting!
Yep. We're all full of bull, but it's really wonderful just to sit around and talk to each other for awhile. We gab about anything and everything in general and it just feels so good to laugh and enjoy the company of my friends. As night falls, the clouds slowly begin to depart. Although we have stayed for several hours, it would seem that no one (except Greg and I) is really interested in doing any scoping tonight and once we've all had our fill it's time to head back to all the various points in Ohio from which we came.
As I leave, I see the green laser wagging in the dark and I laugh as I drive away. Greg is heading for his stomping grounds at the park and I'm heading for Taco Bell and waiting out the Moon. I wasn't too sure if it was going to happen or not, because the mists were really thick on the road back... But despite the silhouettes of deer waiting to ambush me, most of the dew had lifted by the time I had something to eat and sat down for awhile. Time for some comfortable clothes, a cold beer...
My choice was the 12.5 Meade and the 32mm 2" Televue. I had forgotten the simple beauty of the M4 and how rich and compact the M80 really is. The M6 seemed to glow in blue light tonight and the M7 was so bright it was almost blinding. I found myself wandering a bit... Just enjoying life and the stars. Although I am feeling the hours on my feet, there is still enough juice left in the old woman to recoiniter the M62, drift my way up past the small and splashy little NGC globulars and wind up oooohing and aaahhhing over the M19.
And so my heart stays... Sagittarius is looking mighty grand and M8 comes as naturally as pointing my finger at the sky. I drift up the trail I have so long known and loved... Stopping to touch on the Trifid and soar with Omega. I go to Kaus Borealis for the M22 and the M28... And when I drift up again to the M24?
Starlight spills into my eyes....
"You've traveled very far... Just to see you I'll come around."
June 1, 2006 - Moon Shine...
Comments: Ah, yes... Da' lovely Moon. How long has it been since I have seen you, old friend?
And so the Celestron and I go out for a moonwalk. There is something quite wonderful about the beginnings of Summer - the sounds, the smells, and the moonshine. In the eyepiece before me are longstanding friends - Theophilus, Cyrillus, Catherina, the Altai Scarp, Cepheus, Franklin, and Proclus. I find peace in enjoying the solitude of the lunar landscape - just as I find peace in listening to my music while I watch.
H weaves in an out of the shadows - a dark shadow himself. When I have finished observing, I put the Celestron back into the garage and stick a cautious hand into the fresh, clean pool...
Not long. Not long now until I'll be swimming under the starlight...
"No matter where you are... I can still hear you when you Drown."