Jun 8, 2010

Spaceward, Ho!

The sun has been elusive around here, lately. We ended up with some great sky Friday night up at the observatory. It was cold, though, and I forgot to put on my thermal socks. I'll not be making that mistake again any time soon.

It took some doing to get my telescope focused and the telrad adjusted as I've not used my telescope since last September. But once that was done, all was well. At first the sky was very spotty - Venus, Mars and Saturn peeping in and out of the clouds. But then magic happened and the sky became almost completely clear.

Not too many guests showed up, which was good. Gave us some time to get reacquainted with the sky. The boyscouts didn't show up until after 10. They didn't come up by 11. I was pretty much done freezing by then. I think people think because we're an observatory that we're there all night. When it's warmer we stay later. Warmer being a big factor. And staying awake for the drive home.

Found M13 and M4, the Ring Nebula and the Dumbbell Nebula. It was nice to see old friends. Tried to find some new ones, but had no success yet. Will try again this weekend, if the sky cooperates. My favorite objects aren't up yet [blocked by the summit], but they should be soon - the Lagoon Nebula, the owl cluster and Andromeda.

Then I got too cold, packed up and went home. Hours in the wind on a mountain top gets quite chilly. I blasted the heater as much as I could on the way home, but I have to balance that with staying awake. It's a long, lonely drive back into town. So bouts of heat are interchanged with open windows and stiff, cold breezes. Been listening to "Outlanders" by Diana Gabaldon on cd to and fro from the observatory. The crying she invoked on the way home helped keep me awake, too. What will happen to Jamie & Claire? Don't tell me.

What irks me most is the dastards that don't dim their brights. Grrrrr. What is wrong with people? That invokes a different kind of crying.

Saturday was completely socked in. We didn't even bother to open the dome. We didn't set up. Didn't get out any telescopes. No one came to see us either. We hung out and chatted.

When we left to go, it was so dark outside we kind of got lost the short distance from the residence to the parking lot. There was no moonlight. No starlight and all's we had were red flashlights. Some white light would have been very useful. Honest, you could see nothing. Absolutely nothing. Dark like that is very disorienting. I beeped my car a few times for direction checks. It's rather interesting how off course we'd get in just a few steps, thinking we were going the right way.

"Why'd you stop?"

"That's a tree in front of me. And more trees. I don't remember so many trees. Where'd they come from?" Hmmm. Maybe trees walk around after sunset. There's a story ...

No wildlife encounters, which is odd - no deer, no bunnies, no nothing. No Yeti. No cougars, although one has been spotted recently in the parking lot. Maybe that's why wildlife is scarce lately. I was teasing Gary out on the pad, that the cougar was probably in the bushes watching us. LOL