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Outer space!

So D and I had a good time in Northern Arizona last weekend. Drove up Sunday afternoon and spent Sunday evening and most of Monday lazing around our hotel. Monday afternoon, we went over to Lowell Observatory. They actually have a lot of things to do during daylight hours. Solar observation (which we didn't do), hiking trails that show you the relative distances of the planets, solar systems, and galaxies, and the busts of famous astronomers and mathematicians.

They also have a display of the history of humankind's interactions with Pluto. Lowell Observatory is where Pluto was discovered, and they let you fondle the no-longer used Pluto telescope, still berthed in the tiny stone observatory where Lowell did his observations.

Tuesday, we drove up to the Grand Canyon. We had three hours to kill until they'd let us into our hotel room, so we had lunch, then went to see the IMAX show that I missed five years ago. Not sure that was worth whacking my back out on those uncomfortable theater seats.

After we checked into our hotel room and dragged all our stuff indoors, we headed up to the canyon rim. We had about four hours until sunset, so we tooled around the rim and made friends with a hungry mamma squirrel.

The Grand Canyon star party is awesome: several dozen amateur astronomers who love nothing better than telling you the brand, size, and capabilities of their telescopes. D and I want to pool our $$ and buy our own telescope for Christmas, so this was a good place to do research. Among the things we saw through the telescopes: the stripes on Jupiter and three of its moons, Saturn's rings and three of its moons, a crescent Venus, half a dozen galaxies, such as Needle Galaxy and the Sombrero galaxy, the International Space Station (OMG geek out!), the Cigar Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, and Ring Nebula, M15, M4, and M5.

Sitting in a car for all that travel was not fun for my back, but I survived it with lots of memory foam.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
If you're thinking of buying a telescope, you'll have to think of a place to use it. The seeing is pretty bad in Phoenix. I own a Celestron 8". It worked fine in my backyard near St. Louis. In my backyard here, not so much. The middle of a big city-park might work if it's okay to be in it after dark. There ought to be observing clubs in town, but I haven't checked. They could probably tell you where you could set up in your part of the world.

I was okay with the seats at that IMAX theater, but I got a nice headache from the warped edges of view on the curved screen.
Jun. 20th, 2015 09:40 pm (UTC)
Our thought is to buy one that's portable enough to take to the outskirts of one of the reservations, say, at Riggs road, where we won't be technically trespassing, but the light is dim enough to hope to see something.

We've had binoculars since last Christmas, so we know how dismal the viewing is from, say, Kiwanis Park in Tempe, or worse, my neighborhood with all its trees as well as city lights.
Jun. 20th, 2015 08:40 pm (UTC)
What a truly awesome vacation. I had no idea there were star parties at the Grand Canyon. Sounds like a lot of fun.
Jun. 20th, 2015 09:41 pm (UTC)
It's a week long event in mid-June, so it goes on every night. We just went on Tuesday night. Week nights are best for observatories, too, a lot less people are there so the lines are shorter.
Jun. 21st, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
Flagstaff is great when it isn't on fire
Jun. 21st, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC)
I'm never going to live that down, am I?
Jun. 21st, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC)
It's not like you set the fire.

Up until that point, that trip was awesome... Fresne got you to watch Daria....
Jun. 21st, 2015 02:39 pm (UTC)
"Got you" is a little strong. Anyone woman who snarks dryly at stupid punks wins my vote.
Jun. 21st, 2015 01:48 am (UTC)
sounds like a wonderful trip
Jun. 21st, 2015 02:26 pm (UTC)
Worked out surprisingly well. It was overcast in Flagstaff most of Monday, and I was dubious we'd be able to see anything through the telescopes, but it cleared up at dusk. Go figure.
Jun. 21st, 2015 03:27 pm (UTC)
that was some good luck
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )